Saturday, 27 December 2008

Today's work party focused on the following items:

  • Remove rudder and inspect bearings
  • Connect old Garmin eTrex GPS to Nexus
  • Pump bilge
  • Remove lifejackets and lifeline cushions
  • Charge batteries

Pulling the rudder was remarkably easy, all the more so for having Duncan's assistance (this is NOT a one-person job). First, the tiller is removed to expose the fasteners holding the tiller fitting to the rudder post.

With Duncan below the boat holding the rudder, I removed the two smaller machine screws and the two larger nylock nuts from the center, loosened the collar bolt and removed the transverse bolt running through the fitting and rudder post. The tiller fitting then lifted off the post.

The rudder came free and was laid gently on a pad.

The remarkable good fortune in all of this is the happy discovery that the carbon fiber rudder post is in good condition and the original bearings have already been replaced with solid plastic. The lateral 'slop' in the rudder is likely due to friction wearing away some of the load-bearing material. The most needed repair seems to be replacement of the bushing sandwiched between the top of the rudder tube and the bottom of the tiller fitting, which bears the load of the entire assembly.

The gel coat around the top of the rudder tube seems to be cracked and chipped. This should get cleaned up while the rudder is out.

Next up was a little project I had on the back burner since the middle of the summer. The Standard Horizon CP150 GPS which came with the boat never operated in an entirely satisfactory fashion. It did not lock onto satellites particularly well, and on clear days it would not settle on a position fix at all. The user interface was pretty disappointing, too.

I had a Garmin eTrex Vista handheld GPS which I stopped using when I upgraded to the Vista Cx model with color display and much more memory for charts. It was no longer useful as a handheld tactical GPS, but there was no reason why it couldn't become the boat's GPS, as long as it could pick up the satellite signals below deck. I imagined that with the right cable I could wire the Garmin to boat power and the NMEA in/out on the Nexus. A little googling turned up an inexpensive cable, which I finally had time to try out today. It worked on the first try! Because it is much easier to manage waypoints in the Garmin handheld, we'll be able to use more of the navigation features of the Nexus and also have more reliable current set/drift calculations. All for the price of a cable and a couple of minutes with wire strippers. Now I might even become motivated to hook up the NMEA output to the autopilot, which is capable of steering to a waypoint or apparent wind angle.

Tuesday, 19 November 2008

Here's another great photo of Thin Man, this time racing on the final day of the Manhasset Bay Fall Series.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Here's a nice shot of Thin Man sailing back from Day 2 of the Manhasset Bay Fall Series.

It was a grueling day, as the Race Committee elected to send us on a distance race with a course length of 19.2nm. This translated into about 23nm of actual sailing, 2/3 of which was beating into a steep, wind-driven chop against a gusty, moderate breeze.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The Fall Series has come and gone, and we finished with a solid 2nd place in class. There are plenty of stories to tell about those two weekends, and I'll share the details in a few days. For now, I hope you'll enjoy a little video clip from yesterday's final cruise of the 2008 season.

So that's it for sailing this year. Now it's time to plan the winter projects. Top of the list: the rudder bearings.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Last night was probably the final Wednesday evening cruise of the season for Thin Man. The launch service stops running late during weeknights at the end of this week, so the logistics of getting to and from the mooring become tricky. Conditions were perfect, and so was the company.

The next two weekends we will be racing in the Manhasset Bay Fall Series regatta, and we have plenty of good competition to face (including Hustler!). Let's see what we've learned this year. We're in it to win it!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Thin Man raced in the "Gearbuster" yesterday, a 46.5nm distance race from Greenwich to Stratford Shoal Light and back. Conditions did not warrant the event's nickname, considering the wind stayed in the 5-10kt range for pretty much the entire race. While we did not bust any gear, Brian and I certainly did bust a move, taking 1st place in our double-handed class and 1st overall in the double-handed division with 16 boats competing. In fact, our corrected time was better than all but one of the fully-crewed PHRF boats as well—Hurricane, a J/33, was the only boat with a faster corrected time. Results are here.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

I have neglected this journal for too long. Some of my readers may have developed the idea that nothing has been happening on Thin Man. This couldn't be farther from the truth! Last night four of us went out for an evening cruise in beautiful conditions.

After a quick meal at the mooring, we sailed away at 2015 and wandered East under main and jib to Execution Rocks. Once there, we set the spinnaker and gybed back toward Eastchester Bay. Brian and I will be racing Thin Man double-handed in the Gearbuster in just over a week, so we let the ladies watch while we handled the spinnaker set, multiple gybes and douse on our own. Piece of cake!

Wednesday Night Series re-cap After our 1st place finish in the 14th race (moving us into 3rd place), we knew that we needed to continue beating Tolo consistently in order to hold the position. Unfortunately, the 15th race did not prove to be a great one for us. We ended up narrowly avoiding last place in that race due to less-than-stellar boat handling and some poor sail choices on my part (too little sail on the first windward leg, too much sail on the second one). The 16th and final race brought out the entire team (except for Ed, who had a good excuse). We didn't get the best start, but we found our pace and headed in the right direction, earning us a solid 1st place finish in the final Wednesday Night race of the season. Tolo got 2nd place in the race, so they maintained a better series score than us and rightfully took the 3rd place spot in the series. C'est la vie!

EBYRA Fall Series (not) We were supposed to race on Sunday the 14th, but a lack of entries caused the organizers to cancel the event. Undaunted, I found two willing partners to take Thin Man out for a daysail. It was hot, but we had a great breeze and managed to cover about 20nm and flew the spinnaker three separate times. What a fun day!

Wednesdays Will Continue While the Wednesday Night racing may be over, we will go sailing every Wednesday evening, rain or shine, until the boat is hauled in November. There's plenty of room for guests, regardless of skill and experience, to come out and share in the fun.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Thin Man last weekend taking line honors for the Vineyard Race Cornfield Point course, as seen from the committee boat.

Monday, 1 September 2008

It's been a very exciting week for Thin Man. We took first place in our class and first overall for the Vineyard Race Cornfield Pt course, completing the 116nm course in almost exactly 24 hours. We had the dream team on the boat for this event, and the results speak for themselves.

We also took 1st place on Wednesday night, which has moved us up to third place in the series standings. We have two more races to go, and we have to continue to beat Tolo so we don't fall back to fourth and lose the shot at a trophy. Let's go sailing, OK?

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Today was the City Island Yacht Club Distance Race, and Thin Man did not participate. Last year we did it and took 1st place in our division. Since we are doing the Vineyard Race next weekend and had a few lingering maintenance issues and other projects, we opted for a day at the dock instead. However, the shortest course from the mooring to the dock was by way of the starting line to see off some of our friends who were doing the race.

Given the lack of wind, it was understandable that the race committee postponed the start. We, however, had work to do. After paying our respects, we dashed to the dock and got our own efforts under way.

One of our key projects was to install the beautiful teak grab rails that Brian (99%) and I (1%) fabricated at the end of the winter. In order to do so, we needed to remove one of the bolts for the stainless grab rail on the house top since our plan was to use a longer bolt to fasten the teak grab rail inside to the stainless grab rail on deck. I also needed bolts with a variety of lengths to mount some replacement cam cleats, one for the bowsprit extension line and one for the port jib sheet. I headed off to get the hardware with Jared while Duncan and Brian stayed at the boat working.

Another project on the slate was to put an LED light at the top of the mast to illuminate the masthead wind indicator during night races. I had bought the light over the winter and left a messenger line in the mast in place of the heavy gauge wire for the old masthead tri-color light. Jared, as our newest bowman, boldly asked to be the one to go aloft. Who was I to say "no"?

Well, it turns out that bouncing around at the top of a 45' mast is not everyone's cup of tea. Jared came down quickly and I put on the climbing harness to finish the job.

All told, we accomplished almost everything I had hoped to do.

  • Strip clean and lube starboard house winch
  • Replace hinges on forward hatch
  • Run 24AWG speaker wire in mast for windex light
  • Install windex light on top of mast
  • Buy horseshoe preserver for use with MOB pole and strobe
  • Install teak grab rails in cabin
  • Replace port jib sheet cam cleat
  • Replace bowsprit extension cam cleat
  • Strip everything off the boat and only put back what we need (thanks, Duncan!)
  • Scrub the interior and deck of the boat
  • Scrub the cooler

The teak grab rails turned out really well. My only gripe is that I had to settle for the wrong head on the screw (countersunk flat head taking a standard screwdriver). Now that I know the correct dimensions, I can do a little online research and hopefully find a better choice to replace them.

Friday, 22 August 2008

I received a lovely package in the mail today. The YRALIS Championship regatta had an unexpected change in the division line-up which resulted in them not having the trophies appropriately engraved at the time of the event. Ironically, the trophy presented to me at the time was for 1st place in the J/105 division. The official trophy arrived today, just in time to remind me again how much fun we had that weekend!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

All day long I looked out the office window at a clear blue sky and virtually no breeze in New York Harbor. This was perfectly in line with the weather forecast. Leaving the office, I fully expected there to be no chance for a race. The crew assembled at the club as usual and we motored out to the starting line to start our drift fest. We had all the sheets run and the big genoa on deck, but no reason to hoist a sail the way things were looking. Sure enough, the first signal was two horns and an "AP" flag indicating postponement. The wind speed showed 3-4kts from a variety of directions.

To everyone's great surprise and pleasure, the wind filled in at 6-8kts out of the SSW just a few minutes before the 19:45 deadline to start the racing. The course was to Little Bay and back, one upwind and one downwind. With luck, we'd finish before the sunset killed the breeze entirely.

The start was quite exciting, with most boats headed for the committee boat. We followed Peregrina to the line and kept just about a foot clear of their transom to leave the over/under options open. As luck would have it, we went a bit high of them at about 10 seconds to the start in order to lose a little speed and close the door on all the folks on our hip who mistakenly thought of squeezing in. As we dipped down to return to our track, we built up more speed and had to commit to one side or the other of Peregrina. I don't expect the J/92 with a 155% headsail likely to point as well as a J/105 with a non-overalpping jib sheeted inside the shrouds, so we footed off and worked on speed and clear air. I couldn't spend much time watching behind me at the start, but a quick glance left me with the impression of a serious traffic jam.

Peregrina decided to tack very soon after the start, leaving us with clear air and a clear lane either to continue ahead or tack and follow them. We opted for the "loose cover" strategy and tacked toward the shore. After digging in a bit on the right, we decided to get back on the favored tack. At this point, Michael reminded me that I had promised to let him drive after the start (the second time, actually, because the previous time I forgot to give up the helm and drove that entire race). So I switched to the main and Michael settled in on the helm. We were leading most of the fleet still, and crossed tacks with Tolo a time or two. They got a slight edge on us and forced us to tack under them in a port/starboard. We didn't allow this to fluster us and we concentrated on getting the boat rolling fast. As we came up to speed and adjusted to point higher, we found ourselves pulling ahead and climbing up to Tolo. After a minute or two, we were clear ahead and gassing them, forcing them to tack back to the right. One bad tack later and they had us again by a few boat lengths at the windward mark.

We stayed in the strong current, getting a good boost forward and staying in a nice breeze line. Peregrina decided to gybe right after the mark, splitting off to the other side of the course. We matched gybes with Tolo, since we were getting good speed and depth and closing in on them. As we were getting very close to the port layline, we saw Tolo gybe and decided to gybe early in case they overstood. Our optimum speed was taking us directly at the finish line, so the early gybe seemed like the right move. Interestingly, we didn't see Tolo heating up to correct for overstanding the gybe. As we crossed the finish line first and getting the gun (first time this season!!!), we saw Tolo suddenly react to the sound of our finish and turn nearly 90 degrees toward the line (with spinnaker collapsed).

Let's go over that last bit again, shall we? We crossed the line first and well ahead of any boats to which we owe time. At last! This has been a much tougher season than last year, and I'm incredibly pleased that Team Thin Man finally earned a hard-fought victory. The teamwork was outstanding, and that is what wins races.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Preparations are under way for the Vineyard Race in two weeks. We're doing the Cornfield Point course, which is YRALIS Category B and therefore does not require a life raft and does not leave the safe confines of Long Island Sound. It's still 115 miles, which will give me a good sense for how the full course (240nm?) is likely to work on a boat with no galley. Here's what the course looks like:

It should be alot of fun, since it is long enough that we'll need to stand watches rather than push for a sprint-style endurance mode like the shorter (40-60nm) day races. We have an all-star crew of five and only two bunks. Figuring out the watch schedule is going to make my head hurt!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Team Thin Man had a mighty fine weekend at the YRALIS PHRF Championships in Greenwich. Our 2-1-1 finishes gave us the 1st place for our class, which included a couple of J/29's, a couple of X-332's and an Olson 30. Five of us delivered the boat up to Greenwich on Friday evening with unbelievably fine conditions and a fireworks display as we passed Rye Playland. When we arrived, Michael was waiting for us with the car to take us back to City Island to complete the car shuffle. After today's awards ceremony, three of us took the boat back to City Island while Duncan and Carrie drove the car back to City Island so we'd have a way home after the delivery.

I'm very, very happy to have sailed with a really fine group of people, and I'm completely exhausted from all the action. I think I'll get some shuteye now and leave the pictures and analysis for tomorrow.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Hey, just kidding about the boom splint. We really did get the boom replaced in time! Broke it on Saturday, thought about it on Sunday, researched options on Monday, bought and collected the new extrusion on Tuesday, McMichael's riggers assembled it on Wednesday and Michael brought it to the boat and installed it before I even made it to the club. FAST!

For those readers less familiar with sailing, the load on the boom at the point where it broke is phenomenally high. Duct tape and messenger line would not hold up in anything more than the slightest of zephyrs. A repair of the boom is in fact possible, but requires a sleeve of aluminum several feet long welded to the broken pieces with special equipment. I'll keep the broken pieces in case I opt to go this route in the future. It would provide a stronger section at the vang attachment point, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Despite our best efforts, we couldn't get the new boom ready in time. Plan B? Wooden splints, duct tape and messenger line!

It held together for the race, though we didn't win any trophies last night. I think I was a bit off my game from the previous night's expedition (190 miles in total), so the crew work was not orchestrated to a high degree. We were all pretty happy just to be out there sailing, so I guess we can say, "Mission Accomplished".

Tuesday (late late edition), 29 July 2008

Let there be no doubt in anyone's mind concerning my commitment to this sport. With the able assistance of Duncan and Button, I drove over two hours to the fine facilities of Dwyer Aluminum Mast Company in beautiful downtown North Branford, CT. There, wrapped in crisp, shiny plastic was a 13' 1.5" section of their finest DM-450 alloy extrusion.

Next stop, Mamaroneck, where McMichael's Yacht Yard received a late-night delivery of said raw materials plus a collection of broken bits and tackle to make Humpty Dumpty better again.

At the risk of offending orthopedic specialists around the globe, please do keep your fingers crossed all day Wednesday that we may have a shiny new boom for to play once again on Thin Man. Thanks!

Now, about the Women Skipper's Race...

The results have finally been posted and Thin Man took 1st in our division and also earned the Commodore Corsair Perpetual Trophy for best overall spinnaker boat. Stellar performance by Kyra Goldsmith and Team Thin Man!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

I assure you that lack of entries in this journal during much of July did not in any way signify calm, quiet or even lack of activity on Thin Man. We'll catch up on all that a bit later. For now, let's concentrate on yesterday.

Saturday was the Women Skipper's Race. It's a normal regatta with one extra rule: a woman must drive the boat at all times. Cool! Up until the week of the event, I still didn't have a driver lined up. At the last minute, I connected with a friend possessing the appropriate chromosomes who happens to be a superb sailor and a true speed queen. She brought her talented hubby along for the ride; Thin Man regulars Alex and Brian partook in the events; a crewmate from Soverel 33 racing joined us, as did a brand new J/92 owner out of nearby Keyport Yacht Club on Raritan Bay looking to climb the learning curve as quickly as possible.

Racing was scheduled to start at 1455, so we planned to meet up at 1300 at the club. I was half an hour late for my own party, thanks in part to heavy Saturday afternoon traffic and to forgetting my sunscreen. By the time we got out to the boat, we had only one hour until first gun. No time for more than a quick practice. We had a nice steady breeze from the SSW at about 12 knots, so the #2 genoa was hoisted and we put her on the wind for a few tacks. Then we turned a nearby mark and hoisted the spinnaker. After a couple of successful gybes, we were ready to clean up and get ready to race.

The breeze was winding up over 15 knots and race committee was running behind schedule, so we opted to switch out the #2 and try the #3 instead. This is a brand new sail which has never seen a race. Finally we have the appropriate conditions to see how it performs! A couple of tacks upwind and there was no doubt it was the sail for the moment.

We started with a clear lane at the favored end (boat), expecting to dig to the right early to get out of adverse current. That's just what we did, and developed some great speed and point compared to the fleet, steadily building our lead and continuing with some well-chosen tacks along the shore. We rounded the windward mark well ahead of Chaika and Kinsale. The spinnaker went up as planned and we worked our way to the leeward mark as fast and deep as we could. We talked through the plans for the leeward rounding and got things done just in time to turn upwind again. We dug even farther to the shore and got a lovely boost of current heading to the windward mark. The wind was getting gustier, starting to hit the high teens and giving Kyra a good workout on the tiller. We knew the second downwind would be more fun than the first. Little did we know just how much so! We discovered that 93 square meters of fresh Airex 600 cut and assembled into an optimal shape can get Thin Man to 11.5 knots in a 27 knot gust.

That was a speed record for us, which I'm happy to have caught on video as well as in the insrument data recorded on the laptop.

All this fun was bound to lead to at least one happy camper.

We crossed the finish line first by about 5 minutes, which is more than enough breathing room given the rating spread. Great performance from our star driver, Kyra, and the fine crew of Thin Man! Conditions were perfect and the race was great fun.

After we doused the spinnaker, it was time to gybe and head for the mooring. As we gybed, I threw the boom across. When it slammed the mainsheet taut, the boom snapped clean through at the aft end of the vang bracket! Oh noooooooooooooo...

As much as I hate to have major problems develop, this is the sort of issue that I'm actually happy to have encountered sooner than later. I aim to take Thin Man on some Category A (offshore) races and I don't need fatigued equipment failing under those circumstances!

Next regatta is the YRALIS PHRF Championships on August 9th and 10th at Riverside Yacht Club. Hurry up with that new boom, eh?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Last night's weather was gorgeous with a good sea breeze, moderate temperatures and clear skies following a weak cold front. Things generally went very well during the race; we aced the start and stayed close with the faster J/105's on the first upwind leg. The breeze started getting softer, but held in mostly for the first downwind, giving us good conditions to grind down Peregrina and close a bit on Andiamo. We switched out the #2 for the #1 to help us in the lighter breeze on the second upwind. Peregrina went all the way over to the bridge and found their own private breeze, leaping to the head of the pack. On the second downwind, the wind shut down in the middle of the channel. We did our best to work toward the breeze line closer to the finish, but the leaders got to it first and expanded their lead. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Still, 3rd place feels so much better than DFL!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

As promised, here is the GPS track from the Stratford Shoal Race. The outbound course can be distinguished from the return, as we were mostly South of the rhumb line on the way to the lighthouse and mostly North of the rhumb line on the return.

The really interesting bit is around the Norwalk Islands. The wind speed dropped drastically at about 2000, but we were still making reasonable headway (except for the curlicues which represent drifting tacks in adverse current). Then around 2100 the wind all but disappeared and we were barely holding position against the current. In fact, some of the lobster pots were moving visibly faster than we were. The next tease came shortly after midnight, when the breeze filled in from behind. We popped the big chute and started making decent progress again, only to park up just after passing "34". The rest is history.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Saturday was the Riverside Yacht Club Stratford Shoal Race (45.5nm total, running from Cos Cob Harbor to Stratford Shoal Lighthouse and back. Duncan and I entered the double-handed division, racing against a Farr 395, Soverel 33, J/29, J/100 and a J/105. With a start time of 1400, we left the mooring at 1000 and motored about 2½ hours to Riverside Yacht Club, stopped in for a Dark-n-Stormy, then headed out to the line for the big event.

The breeze on the way up to the start from City Island was non-existent. Fortunately, the race organizers put the start in the early afternoon to allow time for a breeze to fill in after the typical mid-day doldrums. Like clockwork, it did fill in from the East at about 5-8kts, so we put up the #1 genoa and got ourselves ready for action. The start was pretty good, despite the Farr 395 barging in at the boat end. After the start, we tacked a few times to keep near the rhumb line and our competition. After about an hour, the wind speed dropped and we started seeing oscillations in direction which pretty quickly settled into a solid Southerly breeze at about 10-12kts. Many boats threw up a spinnaker right away, but we were making very good headway without too much heel, so we played the waiting game watching our competition to see if the spinnaker worked well for them.

The boats with symmetric spinnakers just couldn't hold the angle, especially our nearest competitor in the Soverel 33.

After another hour or so, the wind was very steady at a true wind angle of about 115degrees. This is roughly the crossover point for the spinnaker on Thin Man. Since we have a 1.5/3A (medium reaching asym), we decided to give it a try. It was a very tight reach for the spinnaker and the breeze was at times a bit much for us to carry it so close to the wind, but easing the main off to a luff allowed us to keep the boat upright and we simply walked away from the boats around us.

As we approached the lighthouse, we saw the bigger/faster boats heading back on the return leg at a good clip. The sailing instructions specified leaving the lighthouse to port, so we decided to do a gybe drop (spinnaker comes down during the gybe on the new windward side. After a clean rounding (fretting the submerged rocks in the vicinity of the lighthouse!), we settled in for a close reach back home at about 1800. That pace lasted until just around sunset when, to nobody's surprise, the wind disappeared.

To make a long, painful story a little bit shorter, we were becalmed except for a handful of brief intervals from sunset until the bitter end. We were just over 1nm from the finish at 0340, and our boat speed was 1-2kts at best. There was absolutely no way we would be able to make the 14-hour time limit, so we called in our withdrawal and motored back to City Island. For those keeping track, we got on the boat Saturday morning at about 0915 and left it at the mooring Sunday morning at about 0715. That was a looooooooooong day!

The big question that was hanging over us at this point was, "Did anybody find breeze somewhere else on the course last night?" I could imagine that some sailor with local knowledge might head for the Long Island side and trump the fools on the Connecticut side (us included) by hours. When the results were finally posted late Sunday afternoon, the good news was that not a single boat in our division finished. In fact, only three boats in the entire fleet finished the long course before the time limit expired: a Tripp 50, a J/122 and a J/120. The GPS track of Thin Man near the Norwalk Islands is insane. I'll post it tonight.

Thursday, 27 June 2008

What a painful race last night! Conditions were very challenging, a fickle breeze resulting from an argument between the Westerly gradient wind and the Southerly sea breeze. We were forced over the line about 2 seconds early at the start, so we had to turn around and restart in the light stuff, which put us a minute or so behind the pack. Figuring we needed to make up the deficit as quickly as possible and with everyone going right, we decided to take a flyer to the left. Huge gains? Not so much. I'd say the first flyer put us even deeper. We found a number of holes of confused or non-existent breeze as we wandered around the course. In the end, we were able to beat Chaika across the line but not by enough to save time on them with the handicap figured in. Dead last. Let's try not to repeat that one ever again!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Saturday turned out to be a fine day to take care of a tiny bit of maintenance and then go for a joy ride to celebrate summer solstice. The days get shorter from here on out!

Winds were pretty light until mid-afternoon, and the sea breeze began to fill in just as we were wrapping up our adventure. Nevertheless, we did get a chance to fly the spinnaker, which gave Jared a chance to practice on the bow once before he does it for real on Wednesday night.

Here's a little video showing the extreme sailing conditions.

The tiny bit of maintenance was really minor stuff:

  • Replace the main sheet blocks
  • Shorten the headstay length

The bearings in a couple of the blocks were shot and it did not make a pleasant sound when the sheet was loaded up. While I was at it, I decided on a slightly different combination of blocks (same purchase, 6:1) which results in both bails on the boom being used and less concentration of main sheet around the fine tune. Throw in a couple of swivel locks on the new blocks and I think it will stay neat and run free.

Shortening the headstay was long overdue. I only took about 3/4" (5 turns)—what makes it noteworthy is simply that it's the first time I've done it (ever) with a furling system in place. It's not the sort of thing that I wanted to try out (and get wrong!) just a few minutes before a race, and there's no better time to experiment than on a calm, sunny Saturday afternoon. Now that I've done it and have a concrete idea of the steps involved, it's no big deal to do it when wind conditions warrant adjustment.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

I picked up Thin Man from Barron's Boatyard at 1700 and motored around to CIYC. The weather was a bit dodgy with dark cells of heavy rain and lightning popping up all over the place.

Unfortunately, the storm cells sucked the life out of the wind on Eastchester Bay and racing had to be abandoned. That's not to say there wasn't some gorgeous weather between the cells.

And yes, the raw water intake seacock was replaced with a much more robust version recommended and supplied by the Forespar Customer Service manager. This was definitely the night to have a working engine!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Wednesday night turned out to be perfect sailing conditions, with 10-15kts of breeze, clear skies and pleasant (shorts and t-shirt) temperature. We were only six people due to some unexpected last-minute cancellations. Despite being slightly shorthanded, the boat handling all evening was top notch. We had a relatively long course with five legs (EPLP), and plenty of commercial traffic playing "musical barges". We finished in third place behind Chaika and Andiamo, with Peregrina in the cheap seats. The class ahead of us sailed the same course, so it's interesting to compare corrected time against another division. I'm happy to say that we beat Whirwind (Beneteau 36.7) who took first in Division 6. Nice! Thanks to the steady breeze, we didn't bother with the engine at all. Figured I'd deal with battery charging when I took the boat to Barron's for the seacock replacement.

I received a replacement valve from Forespar on Thursday, so I made plans with John Barron to drop the boat off at his yard on Sunday afternoon. Other than heavy traffic on the highway, the delivery went very smoothly. I deployed the "snorkel" we rigged for the raw water intake on the first day of City Island Cup. Once I had it tied securely to the backstay, I started up the engine and confirmed that it was drawing water steadily for five or ten minutes. Here's a little video of the "snorkel" in action. With reliable operation established, I cast off the mooring bridles and headed around Belden Point to get to the boat yard. The wind was 15-20kts out of the Northeast, which meant that I would see rougher conditions once I cleared the souther tip of City Island. The lee of the island was much more pleasant, as can be seen in this video snippet. I had to keep the speed down around 4kts or so to ensure the snorkel didn't cavitate. It held up just fine, and I picked up the mooring at Barron's without any trouble. If all goes well, I'll pick up the boat on Wednesday in time to go racing. While the boat is out of the water, I'll have the other seacocks lubricated and I'll also have the stuffing box checked, since I never got to it during the winter.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Last weekend was the City Island Cup and Thin Man was there. The weather was blistering hot and sunny, with generally very light winds until mid-afternoon. Each day we had two races, doing well in the first race of the day and not so well for the following race. Race 1 was particularly exciting, as we kept a string on Deviation (Soverel 33) all the way and both of us walked away from the fleet. Race 3 (Sunday morning) we actually led Deviation for almost the entire course, letting them slip ahead just before the penultimate mark. We stayed close enough to finish ahead of them on corrected time. Two J/105s finished well ahead of us, so we got a 3rd in that race.

The good news in all this is that the crew work and boat handling were stellar. We did not have a single SNAFU throughout the entire regatta! I actually went to the correct mark on every leg. Shocking, I know. The bad news is that I did not make the boat go fast enough. Sometimes it was the current, sometimes it was the (lack of) wind, and sometimes it was just the idiot on the tiller. We finished in 4th place out of eight boats. We were beaten by Deviation and two J/105s. We beat one J/105, both Beneteau 36.7s and a Beneteau 40.7. Not too shabby, all things considered. And we had fun.

Another success story from the weekend was the engine situation. Brian and I were able to join a 20' length of dishwasher hose (from Home Depot) to the engine raw water intake hose with a bit of duct tape, running the hose out of the cabin and over the transom. After priming the "snorkel" with a funnel and bucket while the engine was running, we simply dropped the end into the water and tied it to the backstay chainplate. Voila! We motored out to the course Saturday morning, rolled up the snorkel and stowed it by the engine during the races, and deployed it again at the mooring after Saturday's racing to charge the battery.

As far as last Wednesday goes, it didn't (officially). Due to the wind being below the minimum speed required by EBYRA, racing was abandoned without a start. The Race Committee was kind enough to conduct a "fun race", giving us a chance to go up against Chaika for the first time. Although we crushed them at the start, we separated and they got the better breeze and current. Lots of local knowledge on that boat! We'll have to keep a close eye on them this season.

Tonight will be Race 4, if we get enough wind.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

To my faithful readers, please accept my profuse apologies for the long delay in posting an update here. I need more than 24 hours in a day to keep up with everything that requires my attention! Herewith, I give you current status and recent noteworthy events (blah blah blah).

EBYRA Race 2, 21 May We got 2nd place behind Peregrina again, and this time they had a bit more distance on us. The wind did some funny things after the first windward mark, gradually turning the first downwind leg to a broad reach, then a close reach and finally a beat. Trying to carry the new jumbo spinnaker on a tight reach for too long made us a little gunshy on the next downwind leg, so we used the reaching kite expecting the wind to do more funny things. It did, but not what we expected. It shut down almost entirely. We had a lot of lateral separation from Peregrina and they found themselves in the right place when the breeze started picking up, so they beat us cleanly. We beat the other two J/105's over the line, so a solid finish for race 2.

EBYRA Race 3, 28 May I was getting tired of playing 2nd fiddle to Peregrina, so decided that this week would be a match race. Of course, in order to match race you have to be somewhere near the starting line when the gun goes off. We had drifting conditions at the mooring and prepared to start up the engine. First step: open the engine raw water intake seacock. Simple, right? Wrong! The handle sheared off the seacock, with no way of telling in which position the valve was set. Starting the engine up, we quickly learned the seacock was closed. Good for keeping the boat afloat, but not so good for getting to the starting line. We set sails immediately and cast off the mooring. We crawled along at about 1.5kts, staring at a wind line half way to the starting area. We were able to get to the committee boat to read the course board about 1:30 before the start. Not much time to get positioned for a good start, we focused on getting a clean start instead. This meant third row behind Peregrina and a couple of other boats. After clearing the line, we tacked over to port to stay with our competition (remember, match racing tonight!) and quickly got ahead of them by hitting the shifts at the right time. Once ahead, we stayed ahead the whole race. That's good, right? Wrong! Three other J/105's beat us, one of them only 20 seconds ahead of us on corrected time. Not sure if it was the lousy start, the terrible spinnaker set, the awful gybe or simply being in the wrong place on the course because we had to keep a loose cover on Peregrina. We made our point and will return to fleet racing mode this week. Despite letting the other 105's get away from us, we still crushed the two X-332's in our class.

Memorial Day Weekend Finally! A long weekend, no racing on the schedule, and a fair weather forecast set the stage for a delightful late afternoon sail with wife and dog. Since Catya was doing such a good job steering, I took the opportunity to calibrate the speed transducer after having replaced the impeller (which was binding on its axle).

Work Party, 1 June I needed to inspect the seacock more carefully to map out a strategy for returning the engine to normal operation. I had help from Brian and his lovely friend Helena all day Sunday, and the weather was just fabulous. We had 15-20kts out of the West, and just a few puffy white clouds in the sky. Getting to the work dock was a bit entertaining without an engine, to say the least. We set up the #3 jib and sailed over to the dock, then furled it at the last minute before heading downwind and turning tightly on the inside to position us on the lee side of the dock.

In addition to assessing the damage, we needed to take care of a couple of loose ends.

  • Examine seacock damage and repair options
  • Clean oil from engine compartment and bilge
  • Drill and tap new holes for outhaul swivel cam cleat
  • Finish electrical bonding (port chainplate, keel to mast step)
  • Gel coat holes in cockpit bulkhead for instruments
  • Charge batteries with shore power
  • Scrub deck, cockpit and transom
  • Calibrate depth sounder
  • Try out ATN spinnaker snuffer

While Helena and I continued slaving away at the dock, Brian went out on a friend's J/24 for a practice session. Once the chores were completed, he returned (great timing, Brian!). With the wind angle roughly 45 degrees off the port bow, we hoisted the main, unfurled the jib sailed off the dock. As mentioned above, I wanted to try out the spinnaker snuffer since it came with the boat and I'd never even taken it out of the garbage bag in which it was packed. While we clearly need to practice the finer points of operating it, I can see how it can be quite handy for shorthanded racing and cruising. We flew the "frankenchute", since we wouldn't want to damage the ones we use for racing. While the wind was settling down quite a bit from earlier in the day, we still had occasional gusts near 20kts and were able to hold steady 8-9kts with the spinnaker up. One gust even took us over 10kts. Fun!

Tomorrow night is EBYRA Race 4, and this weekend is the City Island Cup. I can't wait!

As far as the engine, we will have to run it with the intake hose in a bucket until next week when I can have the boat hauled and serviced. I had hoped that I might be able to run a long hose from the engine to the head intake under the forward v-berth and avoid the bucket brigade entirely, but those in the know advised me that the engine might not develop enough suction to draw the water through such a length.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Thin Man's first trophy for 2008:

Edlu 2008 trophy PHRF-DH 3rd
Saturday, 17 May 2008

Today was a beautiful day to be out on the water, even if I didn't get a chance to cast off the mooring. The time was well spent taking care of a few essential items on the To Do list. Michael showed up after work, just in time to assist with the fasteners for the blocks and cleats in the new main sheet fine tune. Earlier in the day he stopped in at Larchmont Yacht Club to pick up the Edlu trophy.

  • Replace traveler ball bearings
  • Install main sheet 4:1 fine tune
  • Replace split ring on port jib car pin
  • Charge battery
  • Install boarding step on stern chainplate
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Thursday, 15 May 2008

One down, seventeen to go. Last night was the start of the Wednesday Night Series, and we had five boats on the line for our Division 5 start. There was a nice southerly sea breeze which held up for pretty much the entire race. Our biggest excitement was waiting for Michael to make it through heavy traffic with the course sheet. We barely made it to the start area on time, getting the main up about 8 minutes before the start and the jib up with just under five minutes to go.

The course was four legs (J-L-J). In the diagram above, the sequence of legs is green, yellow, blue and then magenta. We finished close behind Andiamo and corrected ahead of them to place 2nd. That's a nice result for the first fully-crewed race of the season.

The highlight of the evening was the first hoist of the new spinnaker--the shape is so obviously faster than the old 'frankenchute', I really hope I never have to hoist the old one again!

I'll be heading out to the boat again either Saturday or Sunday to take care of a few key items on the 'to do' list (traveler bearings, electrical bonding, main sheet fine tune, ...). With a bit of luck, we'll go for a little sail, too.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Yesterday was the Edlu distance race from Larchmont to 11B off Eaton's Neck and back for a total of about 32nm. Duncan and I got up bright and early (some earlier than others!) so that we would have time to work through the pre-race checklist. I took a few pictures throughout the day, which can be seen as a slideshow here. The GPS track shows how hard it is to follow the rhumb line when the wind is shifting around all over the compass!

All of the prep took a bit longer than anticipated, so we didn't leave the dock until about 1000. First gun was 5nm away at 1055, so we cast off as soon as we finished the items that had to be done at the dock and took care of the rest en route while my good friend Auto took the helm.

We arrived at the starting area just as the first warning signal sounded. A quick check-in with the Race Committee confirmed our participation and starting sequence. Winds were light and shifty, with a strong flood pushing everyone below the starting line. The average wind was Easterly at 5kts or less, so we stayed very close to the line. We got a decent start with speed and clear air, and we settled in for the long slog upwind. The obvious strategy for us was to follow Lora Ann as best we could. Alas, light wind and chop are probably the worst conditions for a J/92, whereas an Express 37 just chugs along. By the time we were within sight of the turning mark, we watched Lora Ann zipping along under spinnaker on the return leg.

After we got around the mark, the new breeze seemed a bit too far forward for the spinnaker, so we waited a few minutes and watched the boats around us. It looked like Morning Glory (J/105) was having a tough time keeping it flying, but they were definitely making ground on us. Once the "5 minute rule" timer expired, Duncan and I agreed to go with the North reacher. We had a clean set and got the jib mostly furled before the furling line pulled out of the spool (apparently I did not rig it correctly). The breeze was light but steady, and we started motoring at a good clip, sometimes hitting close to 8kts. Here's a brief video of the good moments.

Not long after that pleasant spinnaker reach, the wind fizzled. We never stopped making forward progress, but it was extremely slow going for at least an hour. The radio was full of chatter from boats announcing to the Race Committee that they were retiring due to the lack of wind. We just stuck it out, sailing neck and neck with a Soverel 33 and a J/100 in our class (they owe us plenty of time). A breeze gradually settled in, but it was too far forward to allow us to continue with the spinnaker. I doused the chute and unfurled the jib single-handed, since Duncan was passed out down below, suffering as he was from his escapades of the previous night. Once the boat started moving again, he woke up and we worked on getting the boat moving as fast as possible. We quickly pulled ahead of the pack around us and managed to lead them all to the finish: a Soverel 33, a Tripp 33 and a Beneteau 40.7 all close enough to identify. The sky cleared with the new weather and it got a bit chilly, but finishing just before sunset made for a very picturesque end to the race.

The return back to the club was uneventful, save for the minor issue of launch service ending before we got there. We tied up to the dock and unloaded the boat, then located a dinghy and paddles which we towed out to the mooring with us. Once we had the boat buttoned up, we climbed into the dinghy and, with Duncan steering from the stern by one paddle, I used a kayak paddle to propel us at a brisk 1.5kts back to the dock. My shoulders really hurt today.

This morning, I was happy to see the results posted and we got a 3rd place in our class, as well as 3rd overall in the PHRF division. A J/105 by the name of Jaded pulled off a solid first place, beating Rich du Moulin in Lora Ann on corrected time. I don't know Jaded, but I don't have a huge problem with finishing behind Rich in a race like this. All in all, a very enjoyable race and a decent showing for our very first sail of the season.

By the way, the Nexus instruments are fantastic. I didn't have time to get the laptop running before the start, but I did get it going about an hour after the start and I have a recording of all the system data. Hopefully I'll have some time this week to play with the data.

Wednesday is the start of the Wednesday Night Series and the scratch sheet has been posted. Looks like we've moved up one division and, due to a proliferation of Beneteau 36.7's this year, the J/105's have moved down a division. We'll all be in Division 5, along with Chaika and the two X-332's. The rating spread is close, which should make for some good racing. We have an excellent crew lined up and I'm looking forward to another great season on Thin Man!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Brian and I moved Thin Man from Barron's Boat Yard to her mooring at City Island Yacht Club this evening. It was delightfully warm and dry, with a warm breeze building from 5kts when we boarded to about 12-15kts when we finished. The engine purred.

On the way to the boat, I stopped off at West Marine and bought a replacement for the house battery, which was 5 years old and not holding a decent charge any more. With the Edlu this weekend and a bunch of electronics to keep running, I didn't want a flat battery to spoil the fun.

We took the opportunity to hoist the new UK #3 jib. What a gorgeous sail! (Yes, Brian is pinching.)

The mooring tackle had been sitting in the water for about 3 weeks, due to the delays in getting Thin Man launched and engine repaired. After we picked up the pennant, I put on some heavy rubber gloves and scrubbed the tackle with a brush and soapy water to find the line underneath the slimy green mess.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

I received a most pleasing voicemail late this afternoon... the engine has been repaired and is running well. The failed oil line was the correct diagnosis. Phew!

Today was the EBYRA Wednesday Night Series Skipper's Meeting at CIYC. I was tied up with a poorly scheduled business event, so Thin Man was kindly represented by Michael. We now have in hand laminated charts for the various course marks and other useful bits of information.

I finally invested in a proper inflatable life vest, since I wanted to be able to tether myself to the boat securely in condtions such as night time, heavy weather and short-handed sailing. I decided on the Spinlock Deck Vest combined with a Wichard ORC double tether. That is some fine engineering and remarkably comfortable, too.

With the engine repaired and safety equipment in hand, I'm really looking forward to the Edlu race this Saturday. Duncan and I will be double-handing against some extremely good sailors and friends. We have extra motivation to go as fast as possible, if not faster... Brian's birthday party is saturday evening, and we would NOT want to miss that.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The weather has turned much more pleasant and calm, so the mechanic was able to come out to City Island and look at the engine today. He quickly confirmed that it is indeed the oil line which has failed. Actually failed is probably not a strong enough description— John Barron said that it disintegrated in his hands. Corrosion? What corrosion? The line should be replaced before the weekend. I hope I don't get arthritis from crossing my fingers so much!

Looking forward to the racing season now that prep is mostly complete, I've decided to add City Island Cup (June 7-8) to the racing schedule. For those keeping track of the game, this event last year was the first weekend regatta for Thin Man (ever). I'd like to take another crack at it with a full year's experience and a team that is much more familiar with the boat. And I promise to use the correct course chart!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

No, we didn't actually go sailing today. The mechanic didn't show up, but I can see that it would be impossible for him to work on the engine without turning green or worse. With high winds (15-20kts, gusts over 25) out of the East and no engine, it seemed like taking off under sail from a lee shore mooring with rocks only a couple of hundred feet away would be pushing my luck (and that of my fine crew). Jared, Alex and Lindsay helped me rig the boat and get her ready for the Edlu race next weekend.

Jared did an outstanding job finishing up the Nexus wiring. I went to the top of the mast to install the wind sensor (rough ride up there!). Alex and Lindsay installed blocks, ran control lines and bow netting.

The XL displays at the mast look superb!

Conditions may not have been ideal, but the company was.

For those keeping score, here are today's accomplishments:

  • Move boom gooseneck washers to correct position
  • Install bow netting
  • Tighten headstay
  • Install furling line
  • Install bowsprit extension line
  • Install bowsprit retraction bungee
  • Install masthead wind sensor
  • Install blow-throughs above first spreaders
  • Install main sheet and blocks
  • Install traveler control line
  • Install jib lead adjust lines
  • Install jib track cars
  • Install spinnaker sheet turning blocks
  • Wire mast displays to Nexus
  • Re-rig outhaul to jam cleat (temporary until swivel cam cleat is fixed
  • Load #2 genoa, 3A spinnaker, new UK #3 jib
  • Remove Quantum main and battens
  • Install speed and depth sensors
  • Rig flag halyard
  • Remove excess parts and supplies
  • Replace 2nd reef line with messenger
  • Have fun
Wednesday, 30 April 2008 — Late Edition

Duncan, Brian and I made it up to the boat this evening. The first complication presented itself earlier in the day: the launch service at the yacht club stops at 1800, and we couldn't possibly make it to the mooring even under perfect cirumstances. Brian and I scoped out the club and worked out how we would get back from the boat once it's on the mooring.

Next up, the call you never want to receive: as the yard was dewinterizing the engine it started spraying oil out the port side. The yard suspected a bearing failed and a rod went through the side of the block. The prognosis was a replacement engine!!! Well, looking at the scene of the crime, I have a slightly different (more optimistic) assessment. I believe that the lube oil pipe going from the sump pump to the valve spring failed. It is horribly corroded and was probably knocked a bit last week when we took care of the engine zinc anode. In any case, a mechanic is scheduled to inspect the damage on Friday. We'll see how it turns out. My fingers are crossed!

Next up, the mast. We had a few halyards to bring down with by their messengers, which of course yielded another complication. Someone let go of the spinnaker halyard messenger, and with a nice strong breeze on the port beam the tail was completely out of reach. I climbed up to the second spreaders and brought the halyard down. Nice view from aloft!

OK, so what did we actually accomplish?

  • Retrieve halyards and lead through clutches
  • Install boom (Duncan did that)
  • Install mast partner spacers
  • Center mast hounds athwartships
  • Tension cap shrouds to 38 on Loos PT-2 gauge
  • Adjust D1 and D2 shrouds to bring mast in column athwartships
  • Install instrument pod on mast

The boat will stay at Barron's while the engine is being repaired. We'll hit the boat again Saturday for a few hours of rigging and prepping followed by a few hours of sailing (engine optional).

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Thin Man is finally in the water, just about a month behind schedule. We'll take her from Barron's to CIYC this evening and take a first crack at tuning the mast somewhere along the way. This Saturday will be more tuning and practice all day. The following Saturday is the Edlu. Game on!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Nope, she's not in the water yet. I stopped by the boat this morning to replace the furling hub and spool with the new Mark II unit I received yesterday. While I was at it, I took a peek inside the boat and saw that the re-tabbed forward bulkhead has been painted with gel coat. That takes care of all the pre-launch issues.

With the improved weather, the log jam in the boat yard has finally been cleared and they can start splashing boats at a good pace. All crew, please report to Barron's Boat Yard next Wednesday (30 April) at 6pm unless you hear otherwise from me.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

We had one cancellation for today's work party. However, stalwarts Brian and Alex accompanied me to City Island bright and early to burnish the bottom. We started out with 1200 grit paper, but it wasn't producing a notably texture-free surface. Robin Ricca happened to be nearby and offered some very helpful advice about technique and using a coarser grit. Because we had only one hose, I elected to wet sand the bottom while Alex and Brian took care of important stuff in the cabin. I surely do wish I had done it yesterday when the sun was shining and the air was warm. Today it was cold, gray and windy (15-20kts) and I was absolutely drenched from the wet sanding. It only took me about 6 hours, but I'm very, very pleased with the results. Note to self: wear old foul weather gear next time you wet sand a boat!

Here's the rudder at the end of the day:

In all here's what we accomplished today:

  • Burnished the bottom to race-ready condition
  • Removed, cleaned and re-installed remaining four boomvang screws on boom
  • Re-installed tie-down pads for holding tank
  • Removed, cleaned and re-installed engine zinc with new
  • Vaccuumed and wiped down port and starboard counters

If Thin Man is launched early this coming week, I'll be able to take her around to her mooring on Wednesday morning.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

It's a beautiful Spring day in New York City, temperatures in the 70's and not a cloud in the sky.

I stopped by the hardware store and got some fine bronze wool, a bunch of 1200 and 600 grit sandpaper, and a bunch of 8AWG crimp connectors to finish the bonding. I also stopped by the yacht club and checked the pile of moorings in the parking lot to be sure mine was not there. Good news, I couldn't find it. Looking out on the mooring field, I saw enough moorings in place that I'm confident mine is there.

I found a local rigger, Bam Miller at Oyster Bay Boat Shop, with expertise in the Harken furler and who happened to have a spare Mark 1 Unit 0 hub which would eliminate my problem with two stripped screw holes at the top of the hub where the torque tube attaches. Not only that, he had to be on City Island today to drop off a cool new gadget for Hustler over at Consolidated. We took apart the furler and replaced the hub only to find that the furling line spool doesn't fit on the new hub. He's going to order the correct match for the hub and I'll slip that on as soon as it's in hand. The headstay is perfectly functional without the spool, I just can't furl the jib until it's on.

As you have no doubt guessed, she's still not in the water yet. But on the bright side, the bottom is painted and it looks very nice. Tomorrow we will be four in the work party, so burnishing it should go pretty quickly.

The thru-hull for the speedo is beautifully flush (only the masking tape is visible viewed athwartships.

The foils look smooth, too.

While I was at the boat, I wanted to check the computer interface to the Nexus. Everything checks out, including the wind vane (which I could hook up without the mast in place thanks to Selig's suggestion to get a spare cable). The GPS locked on and SeaClear displayed boat position and heading on the best available chart (Eastchester Bay Insert). All the Nexus data can be displayed on the laptop. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Waiting for Thin Man to be launched is a bit like watching paint dry. Literally!

I'm guessing that the painting will not be finished in time for a launch this week, unfortunately, though I'll be pleasantly surprised if things work out.

Alex and I got to the boat after 6pm, so there was not much light left. We worked on a copule of small-ish projects:

  • Clean up vang bracket machine screws and re-install with anti-seizing compound (only half would come out)
  • Remove mast base, clean and re-install with anti-seizing compound
  • Load delivery sails
  • Load running rigging

If the boat splashes Friday, we'll be ready to sail. If not, there's more we can do on land. The work (or sail!) party this weekend will be Sunday. See you at City Island...

Monday, 14 April 2008

I forgot to include a couple of additional accomplishments from yesterday's work party, which presents me with the opportunity to express my appreciation to Brian and Michael for tackling the topsides polish-and-wax project while Jared and I were busy with the electrical system. You just can't buy good crew like this (although I hear that a steady supply of Guinness and Heineken helps)!

  • Installed zinc on propeller shaft
  • Cleaned and serviced secondary winches
  • Labeled various cleats and clutches
  • Charged batteries with shore power
Sunday, 13 April 2008

One of today's jobs was to check out the electrical bonding system. Proving the validity of Murphy's Law, the wiring from the port chainplates to the mast step was the principal problem area, and it was also the most inaccessible. Oh, my aching back!

The view from under the sink was enlightening... The stainless machine screw to which the wire attaches was thoroughly corroded from conact with the aluminum mast step support.

The back side of the screw is inaccessible without significant effort, so we'll tie the port chainplate directly to the starboard chain plate (once I get more 8AWG crimp lugs).

Here's the summary of today's accomplishments:

  • Bonding system problems identified (port chainplate, keel to mast step)
  • Shrouds and spreaders installed on mast
  • Spreader tips wrapped and taped
  • Nexus NX2 server installed
  • Speed/depth/compass transducer cables run to server
  • Cockpit display cable run to server
  • GPS NMEA output connected to server
  • Polished and waxed topsides

The yard is taking care of smoothing out the blisters in the bottom paint and spraying. Progress on the fairing was very good. Thin Man should be launched this week, so come the weekend we will be SAILING!

Friday, 11 April 2008

It's a good news/bad news sort of week. The bad news: the boat is not being launched this week. The good news: the boat is not being launched this week. Much as I'd like for the boat to be in the water and get on with tuning and practice activities, there are a bunch of reasons why it wouldn't be so good:

  • No launch service at the yacht club
  • No mooring at the yacht club
  • No sacrificial zinc on the prop shaft
  • Bottom touch-up and spray not finished
  • Topsides not compounded and waxed
  • Bonding system not fully checked/repaired

On the bright side, Brian and I got a chance to check the headstay and furling gear on Wednesday, as well as untangling the shrouds and spreaders stored at home for the winter. We also re-ran the spinnaker halyard, which was inadvertently reaved above the bail instead of below.

The crew will assemble at the boat this Sunday to knock out the remaining pre-launch preparations. It's one month until Thin Man racing begins with the Larchmont Edlu and the EBYRA Wednesday Night Series. I can't wait!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Many thanks to Jared and Brian for their help on Saturday. We got a ton of work accomplished and I'm starting to feel pretty good about preparations for launch.

  • Chainplates installed
  • Wind transducer based installed on masthead
  • 2-display mast bracket fitted on mast with threaded holes
  • Nexus Multi Control displays installed in cockpit bulkhead
  • Halyards and backstay re-installed on mast
  • Propeller polished
  • Bonding wire bridged around speedo thru-hull
  • Shrouds and spreaders stored on boat
  • Engine raw water thru-hull strainer re-installed

A random assortment of pictures from the day is available here.

For those who missed this weekend's work party, fear not! There is plenty left to be done next weekend and I'll be calling around to line up some help.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Spring has sprung and preparations for a season of racing and fun are moving along at a good clip. The high-level project list:

  • Restore chainplates
  • Replace instrument package and transducers
  • Move log transducer to centerline
  • Remove masthead tri-color light
  • Add windex LED light
  • Repair bonding system
  • Redo structural tabbing on starboard forward bulkhead
  • Add 12:1 main sheet fine adjust
  • Move traveler controls in line with traveler
  • Rebed engine raw water intake screen on bottom of thru-hull
  • Replace sacrificial zinc on auxiliary engine
  • Repair corrosion on engine block around sacrificial zinc
  • Restore teak toerails forward and in cockpit
  • Install teak grab rails in cabin
  • Install halyards and shrouds on mast
  • and so on...

Tomorrow I have a few crew going to the boatyard with me to continue working on these projects. Last weekend it was just me and Brian, but we managed to get some good work done then, too:

  • Remove bedding compound from deck at chainplate holes
  • Scrub chainplate rust from bulkheads
  • Scrub rust from chainplates
  • Drill and tap holes in mast truck for new wind transducer
  • Perform System Reset/RAM Clear on boat GPS

The boat GPS seems to work quite nicely after the reset. Before, it was taking forever (sometimes literally) to lock on to satellites which it was reading with good signal strength. After the reset, it takes 12 seconds from power on to position lock, admittedly in a very stationary situation.

The new UK sails have been delivered and are snugly ensconced in the basement, waiting for the boat to be launched. Speaking of which, hopefully the boat will splash next Friday the 11th. There's a 50/50 chance that something will delay the launch and it will be the following week. The weekend following the launch will be practice and instrument calibration time.

I had Selig Berman of handle the depth and log thru-hull installations so that they would be faired smoothly into the hull. The results are outstanding and I'll get a snapshot of the fine craftsmanship tomorrow.

It is supposed to be raining most of the day, but we'll be happy and safe despite the weather. Yarrrrrrr!

Monday, 10 March 2008

Yesterday there were three of us to continue with preparations on Thin Man.

  • Removed chainplates
  • Removed masthead tri-color light
  • Replaced wire for masthead light with messenger
  • Removed old masthead wind transducer
  • Replaced wire for wind transducer with messenger
  • Removed TackTick mast display bracket
  • Replaced mast display wire with messenger
  • Broke a screw extractor, leaving the tip in the mast base screw

That last point is rather unfortunate. Looks like we'll be sailing with three screws in the mast base for the rest of time. Pictures from our effort are here. As you can see from the pictures, the boat yard has made nice progress re-tabbing the forward starboard bulkhead.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

I felt like a kid on Christmas morning with all those toys calling out to me to unwrap them and try them out. All it would take is the jumpstart kit from the car to give the system a little juice.

With suitable power assured, I unpacked the server and attached the wires provided to the clearly labeled terminals, then clamped the other ends in the jumper cable jaws. Next up was the MultiControl display included with the server. Slide the terminal block onto the back of the instrument and Bob's your uncle. Double check the wires, reach over and turn on the jumpstart battery. "Houston, we have lift-off." I hooked up the log, depth and wind transducers as well as the PC interface (downloaded the NX2 software previously). Badda BING!

This is going to be a great system!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Look what the postman brungeth! Lots of installation work in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Today was a beautiful, late-winter day on City Island, perfect for a little bit of work at the boat. Duncan and I set out in the morning with a list of stuff to do.

  • Chisel out old fluxgate compass mounting pad from thru-hull area
  • Photograph battery details, thru-hull area, chain plates
  • Remove and identify sample machine screw from vang attachment at boom
  • Remove and identify sample machine screw from mast base fitting
  • Test drill in mast base fitting hole with missing machine screw
  • Check fit of cabin grab rails
  • Inspect electrical contacts for all bonding points in hull
  • Remove masthead tri-color light and replace wire with messenger

Unfortunately I did not bring a knife and was unable to break the super silicone seal we applied to the tri-color masthead light last spring, so getting that lump of weight off the masthead will have to wait for another work party.

I also decided to defer the bonding wire checkout for another time. I found what appears (not confirmed) to be a broken connection from the keel to the mast. I'll probably combine that project with cleaning out the bilge so I can see how the bonding wire is routed through the sump.

The missing mast base machine screw mystery has been solved. The old screw is sheared off below the level of the interior gelcoat underneath the mast base fitting. I'll have to perform a screw extraction on another day.

Last, but certainly not least, we have a more definite plan of events for the 2008 racing season. Please check with me if you have interest in racing any of these events.

  • April 5-6, 12-13 — Tune-ups and practice sessions
  • May 10 — Larchmont Yacht Club Edlu (double-handed Todd/Duncan)
  • May 14 — EBYRA Wednesday Night Series runs for 18 weeks
  • May 17-18 — Greenwich Cup
  • June 28 — Riverside Stratford Shoal Race (double-handed Todd/???)
  • July 5 — Stuyvesant Heifetz Trophy Distance Race
  • August 2 — City Island YC Women Skippers Race
  • August 9-10 — YRALIS Championship Regatta
  • August 29 — Vineyard Race Cornfield Point Course (double-handed Todd/???)
  • September 13-14 — EBYRA Fall Series -or- Greenwich Cup
  • October 11 — Indian Harbor Gear Buster Race (double-handed Todd/???)
  • October 18-19, 25-26 — Manhasset Bay Fall Series

That should be a nice assortment of buoy and distance races, I think. Ideally one or more of the Connecticut events will prove viable for a J/92 one-design gathering. More on that as plans develop.

Monday, 18 February 2008

My how time flies! So much going on right now and so much more yet to do before launching.

On Saturday, Brian and I went to a very cool high-end woodworking shop tucked away in a back corner of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Armed with templates we made earlier in the winter and a shop full of every imaginable woodworking tool, we converted a nice strip of teak salvaged from someone's badly executed teak table into an incredible amount of sawdust and two gorgeous teak hand rails to adorn the cabin ceiling port and starboard. See the day's project here.

Last week I placed the order for a new instrument package (Nexus NX2) which includes a central brain to work out useful info like true wind, current set and drift, target boat speed/wind angle, strip charts, etc. I will have the speedo thru-hull relocated to the centerline to eliminate asymmetric readings between tacks, which has the added benefit of resulting in the fitting being faired into the hull rather than projecting as it does today.

The week before, the YRALIS PHRF Handicap committee convened for the first time since October of last year. I attended the event along with Kerry Klingler of UK-Halsey to request clarification on the penalty range for spinnakers over the original class limit of 86.7sqm. Kerry has been waiting for this decision in order to finalize his design for Thin Man's new spinnaker. The meeting went surprisingly smoothly and we got clarification that 93sqm is the cut-off for the current rating. I can just hear the chattering sound of those sewing machines zig-zagging their way through the Airex.

I'm starting to plan out the 2008 events for Thin Man. Of course we'll be back for the EBYRA Wednesday Night Series. How could we not? Other likely events:

  • Larchmont EDLU - double-handed? distance race (40-something nm)
  • City Island Cup - this was Thin Man's first weekend event last year
  • Red Grant Regatta - a very enjoyable event on Raritan Bay (South side of Staten Island)
  • YRALIS Championships - got a 2nd last year, let's go for a 1st this time!
  • City Island Distance Race - got a 1st last year, let's go for a 1st overall!
  • City Island Women Skippers Race - not just the skipper... all-female crew and I'll be the beer bitch
  • Vineyard Race (Cornfield Pt course) - doublehanded distance race (115nm)
  • Greenwich Cup? - looking for a J/92 one-design event with 5-6 boats this year
  • Manhasset Bay Fall Series - we did not do well at all... I want silver! :-)

I'll update shortly with details on the dates for each of these. Please contact me if you are interested in crewing in any of these events.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Happy New Year! I made it up to the boat again for the first time since before Christmas. This time I was not alone. Duncan and Brian gave me a hand finishing the job of stripping everything out of the cabin that wasn't bolted down. We also removed the remaining halyards and the stays from the mast. As we've been working on the boat the past two months, we've written down a few ideas for winter projects. More on that soon.

In two weeks I'll be heading down to Acura Key West Race Week 2008 to sail with Norm on his Mumm 30 "Just Plain Nutz" against a tough one-design fleet of 14 others. We'll be sharing the Division 1 circle with the Farr 40 and Melges 32 classes stacked with pros and America's Cup teams. Plenty to learn just watching them in action! While we're down there we'll discuss a coordinated 2008 racing schedule for our flotilla (Thin Man, Whacko and Just Plain Nutz) to maximize our insane style of fun.