More Trailer Work

All evidence suggests that I enjoy working on the boat trailers.  On my days off I keep finding myself crawling around under the trailers tinkering or fixing something.  Well, since the boats live on their trailers and the trailers deliver the boat to the water it is probably a worth while time investment to keep them in decent condition.
When we took ownership of Spy Hop her trailer was in good shape (compared to Tiger’s trailer) but still required a bit of work.  The only major problem was that the tongue was bent about 15 degrees to the left.  I wasn’t prepared to replace the tongue in the previous owners drive way so I towed it home with the bent tongue.  Being a true procrastinator I proceeded to ignore the issue for three months.  It wasn’t until a friend saw the trailer and was shocked that I towed it in that condition that I took seriously the need to replace the bent tongue.  Some people had suggested having the tongue straightened by heating it and bending it back.  I didn’t like that idea because I’ve seen what happens when a paper clip is bent one too many times, so I decided to simply replace the bent tongue.
Bent trailer tongue
Side by side with old and new trailer tongue
Ordering the required part from a Load Rite dealer was easier than I had anticipated and the best part was that it came pre-drilled to be installed onto the trailer!  I wasn’t looking forward to drilling several holes into the steel.  The replacement itself took a bit longer than I expected and was a little more involved than I thought.  The wiring harness runs through the tongue and then into the other frame members and dealing with those wires was a challenge I hadn’t really expected.  But, when all was said and done it went smoothly and the Load Rite design allowed for good access to all fasteners and for the frame members to come apart simply and go back together just as simply.
Replacing trailer tongue
Replacing bent trailer tongue
So whats the verdict?  The straight tongue is much better than the bent one.  I’m not surprised that the straight tongue is less squirrelly and easier to control but I am still glad that it is.  Oh, and it is nice not having the boat canted off to the side while towing.

Little Improvements

There hasn’t been a whole lot of sailing recently due to travel and work schedules, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been progress on boat projects. I figure that if I can’t be on a boat I can at least be tinkering with one, or at the very least hangout at a harbor.  For example last weekend Asya and I were in my sailing home of Santa Cruz California.  We didn’t get to do any sailing but we were at least in the proximity of some very cool yachts which is at the very least somewhat comforting.

Santa Cruz Harbor
Nice summer morning at the Santa Cruz Harbor

Back on the east coast a few boat projects have been under way and finally completed today. I had previously made a boom crutch to aid in setting up Spy Hop, and to keep the boom under control and out of the way when the sails aren’t raised.  What I absolutely didn’t expect was that having the boom elevated and supported means that everyone will want to lean on it.  The original boom crutch broke quickly because I built it hold the boom and sail … not humans.  Oh well, I built another one that I think is much stronger so hopefully this one will last more than a day. But even though the original was short lived it was still very handy during set up.  I may even consider adding a boom topping lift if we ever get a mooring for the boat, but for now that would be just one more line that needs to be run during boat set up.

sailing wind indicator for O'day Daysailer
New wind indicator
Something that I have wanted for a while I finally got . . . a real wind indicator.  I learned to sail looking at the top of the mast to tell me which way the wind was coming from.  On Tiger we added pieces of yarn on each shroud to indicate the wind but it isn’t the same thing.  Spy Hop came to us with no wind indicators at all so she is the recipient of the new mast top wind indicator.  I picked up a cheap model from a local marine supply store so it isn’t the highest quality, but I still think it is cool being able to look up and see what the wind is doing rather than have to interpret a piece of string.

Brightwork Part II – Some new thoughts

Update: Do not use this method of wood sealing.  The epoxy will seal the wood however doing it as I have described will lead to an unappealing visual result.  Please do not use this method until I update this page and remove this message.

After a bit of time to experience and live with the epoxy sealed thwarts I have some new opinions.  The easiest way to say it is that I am a little disappointed in the results.  I knew that the epoxy would react to UV rays, but I didn’t realize that it would apparently happen very quickly.  The deterioration hasn’t been structural or decreased the protection of the thwarts in any way, but it doesn’t look great,  and that is still a bit disappointing.

Daysailer coming
The varnished coaming wood kept out of sunlight still looks nice, however the UV exposed part looks less so.

While working on the coamings I have developed some thoughts about improving the way I go about sealing the wood.  First I’ll do thinner coats of epoxy.  On the thwarts I went the route of applying thicker coats but less total coats, next time I’ll do more coats but make them thinner.  Heavier coats of epoxy became difficult to control and led to unnecessary run off.  Also, the complex curves of the coaming meant that achieving an even coat was difficult while going heavy on the epoxy.

A heavy coat of epoxy also meant that sanding would likely be required to even out the coat.  My experience is that sanding ended poorly.  The epoxy would sand but would also become cloudy from I assume the dust getting I to the small scratches left by the sand paper. A less course sand paper would probably mitigate that some what but my resolution became to sand as little as possible. I have yet to find a good way to remove the cloudiness once it is produced.

Daysailer comings
Coamings before and after being covered in epoxy

Varnish on top of the epoxy does do a little bit to bring back the visual appeal of the coated wood but it doesn’t fully eliminate the cloudiness created by the sanding process. A couple coats of varnish does add a luster to the wood that epoxy doesn’t which adds a nice level of finish to the final product.

So yeah, I might be a little bit disappointed by the results of this first experience with sealing bright work but I have learned some things in the process as well.  The tiller is the next wooden piece that needs some improvements,  I plan on applying some of these lessons  on that when the time comes to brighten it up.

Guests on Spy Hop

I tend to treasure my time alone and enjoy sailing solo from time to time.  But, of all the things that I prefer to do alone, sailing isn’t one of them.  On our last sailing excursion Asya and I had the pleasure of hosting some of our sailing friends Jen and Cory.  This was a first for us as we finally have a boat that is large enough to accommodate more than two people.  And it was an absolute blast!  We went out to our usual sailing haunt, Mashpee Pond and prepared for a day on the water.

Guests on Spy Hop

Anchoring is a maneuver Asya and I have done only once before under the close eye of a sailing instructor in Santa Cruz, and it had been a while since we had done that.  Jen on the other hand had experience and was willing to lead us through the process, so the decision was quickly made to anchor at one of the islands that are scattered across the lake.  That would allow for some swimming, a drink, and a snack.  Yes, it was all good fun.

Spy Hop anchored mashpee pond

We even made some new friends.  These little guys were fun to watch as they paddled and dove around.

Ducks on the Pond

And we lazed around and enjoyed the day on the water.

Laying on Spy Hop
She’s hold a camera, not a phone!

I think that we are going to need to do this again soon.  Having extra hands aboard allowed for plenty of enjoyment since sailing tasks could be spread between four people, plus the company was fantastic.  We will need to take more guests out soon.

Sailing After the Storm

Hurricane Arthur brushed passed New England on the 4th of July.  Obviously the best choice of activities for the 5th was to go sailing!  Well, maybe.  Winds were on the stronger side, blowing steadily at about 10 kt and gusting into the 20 kt range.  Conditions were on the border of not being a good idea given the gusty and variable conditions.  But, our desire to go sailing over powered my caution.


Nothing bad or dangerous happened (aside from trying to beach downwind, not sure I want to do that again).  But, even though nothing broke and Asya and I came back still speaking to each other I’m still not convinced that we should have gone out that day. Before we launched I was mildly uncomfortable with the weather reports.  They were the strongest winds that we had sailed in, and the wind seemed confused, blowing from one direction then gusting from another.  Conditions were such that we both felt overwhelmed from the beginning, and a couple hours later when we put back in we were frustrated, which isn’t a good way to end a sail.  In hind sight I wonder if it would have been smarter (and safer) to have stayed on the beach and simply enjoyed the view.

The upside of going out after the storm was that we learned where our current wind threshold is.  I’d say 25 knots maximum and a 10 knot gust factor is all that I am comfortable with at this point.  Yes, the veteran Hobie sailors will probably say at those wind speeds the fun is just starting, and they are probably right, but I am just not there yet.  And that being the case, I’ll continue to be a wimp and push the limits only a little bit at a time.

First Hobie sail of the season

Hobie 14
First Tiger sail of the season.

There are still a good number of projects that I want and need to do to Tiger to spruce her up this season.  The last day that I had off I had the option of staying in the driveway and doing some of the projects that I have planned, or go sailing.  With clear skies and light winds it is easy to see that I would chose sailing rather than boat projects.

The light winds were actually rather frustrating because they were light and variable.  When the wind would go calm both the boat and I became confused as to where the wind would start up from again.  More than once I was caught off guard by and accidental jibe when the wind direction suddenly changed.  All of the wind challenges were complicated by the reality that Hobie cats are notoriously difficult to tach.  Tiger would end up in irons (probably my fault honestly) and the wind would die down so my tricks for getting her out of irons wouldn’t really work because the wind wasn’t in our favor, and often changed direction which only complicated the situation.

Hobie 14

Of course, all of those difficulties with the wind aside, taking Tiger out was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.  Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple hours laying around on a boat while causally sailing back and forth across a lake?