With the Chicago Mackinac Race one month away, it is time to put this into high gear and not let off the gas pedal for one moment. We did a race from Chicago to Waukegan, almost thirty miles to test out our progress on the improvements made so far. We are pleased to win the race.
The following day is the return race. There were gigantic holes (areas of no wind) and other areas where the wind blew and boats were moving. We went along the shore and saw our competitors out in the Lake sail passed us and were gone. Tempers flared momentarily. As I had learned the previous day that we were on the right track, I stopped contributing to the crew work, and started fixing things I could fix along the way. Eventually the wind filled in strong and we crossed the finish line.
Only a few minutes later we heard the boat that was leading out to sea call in on the radio that they were approaching the finish line and one mile away. We all were confused by this. It turns out the wind shifted enough that the boats to sea had to tack to get to the finish line adding great distance to the race they sailed, which was more of an effect than our going slow for quite some time. When we read the results online finding that we won again, my quick comment was, “We sure blew that one out our arse!” The whole crew laughed hard in agreement.
124. I made a strop to put on the bow. This rope with a shackle on it does two things. It always clips into the jib halyard eye when the sail is down and holds the head of the jib in the slot stay so it is always ready to raise (just pop the strop shackle open). And when going downwind, we just crank hard on the jib halyard to pull the mast forward.
125. To pop open shackles on sheets, guys and halyards, the little ring is hard to grip, hard to see at night and adding lanyards on all of them makes life easy when using them.
126. While minor, the kitchen utensils needed cleaning.
127. There were six bolts on the cockpit floor. You’d presume they held something under deck. Not only did they not have any purpose, there were no nuts on them and they were loose in their holes. This allows water to drip around these bolts and into the interior of the boat. The six are removed and the holes filled with epoxy.
128. While laying all of the lines on the boat out, we test the Reaching Strut. It doesn’t work. The tangs on the side of the mast are mounted way too high. I remove them, tap eight new holes and screw them back in with Loctite. Every bolt and nut I touch on the boat gets Loctite.
129. The spinnaker pole must get to the optimal height in order for the outer end to swing through the bow. I mark that point on the mast for all future reference.
130. Various holes in the cockpit are filled with Life Calk.
131. In the race to Waukegan we learned that when the boat heels hard, there is no place to brace your foot when steering and it is strenuous and hard to steer as a result. I build a foot brace and mount it on the floor under the wheel.
132. We make a barber hauler (to sheet in the jib closer than the outboard trimming rail provides) using line and a snap shackle.
133. The Stuffing Box is where the propeller shaft comes through the bottom of the boat and connects to the transmission. There is packing material around the shaft that keeps the water out that wears over time, and tightening a large nut compresses the packing material. Care must be given not to tighten it too much. It wears quicker and does provide enough water within the packing material to keep it cool. Over heating it really dries it out and makes it really leak. There is too much water coming through, so I tighten the nut 3/8 of one turn. This works well.
134. The strike plate on the head door isn’t keeping the door shut. I move the strike plate, and drill the hole deeper. Later I see when we are heeled far, the boat flexes enough that the door opens while under way. Back to the drawing board.
135. There are a number of cleaning/lubricating spray cans under the galley sink. They are always falling around. I install a piece of shock cord to hold all of them in place.
136. We attack more deck leaks, re-caulking leaky bolts.
137. We learned that the sewing of the loop on the tack of the #3 jib was super tight to put the snap shackle on the bow through it. We install a larger shackle in the loop which works fine.
138. One power switch on the panel turns on the: Depthometer, Autopilot, Knotmeter, and Wind vane with windspeed. Most certainly we don’t need to waste battery juice on the depth, or autopilot while racing the Mackinac Race (power conservation is really important). I run a new power wire from the panel (now using one of the previously mentioned “spare” switches) to run just the Knotmeter and Wind vane with windspeed, leaving the Depthometer and Autopilot on the original switch.
139. There are eight jammers made by Garhauer and when lines try to run through them, then lock down rather than letting the line slide through. I look at their website for a solution and didn’t find one, so I called them. The solution was simple, simply tighten the one horizontal bolt so that the handles are just slightly harder to lift up and down. Walla!
140. Removed incandescent light from ship’s compass and installed red LED light. And bright it is!
141. Carrying weight on a boat makes it sink lower in the water, causing a loss in speed. For efficiency, I go through the boat and remove all sorts of useless items (leftover from the prior owner) and send the weight to storage.
142. There was an 18″ cable with an eye on it crimped to the backstay. It was old school where the end of the boom, at rest, would be shackled to the backstay to hold it up. With the installation of the rigid boomvang, this cable is no longer needed. Very carefully, I take the Dremel and cut away the swedge, removing this cable.
143. The engine wouldn’t always start when the key was turned. I contact the Atomic 4 engine manufacturer – Moyer Marine, for ideas. The one solution sounds like a ton of work and has me concerned as I’m just not the best engine mechanic. Working on an engine is something I much prefer a real mechanic to do. I remove the alternator and find the first problem though I know it is not related to the starting issue. The crimp on the big wire that sends the electricity to the batteries is barely holding. I install a new one and crimp it tight and permanently. Next I find the wire that comes from the starting switch attached to the starting motor is a fork connector held in place with a nut. The nut is loose, and the fork connector has spread apart. I cut the fork off, and install a ring connector, and put the nut on with a lock washer tightening it extra tight. Thereafter the engine starts each time like a charm. Ok, sometimes I do succeed with engine work!
144. As the boat sits on a mooring in Monroe Harbor which is notorious for having storm waves in it that rips boats from their moorings, we decide to install a product called G10 under the bow cleats. A simple way to describe it as a larger backing plate. This requires removing the cleats, sanding under the deck, epoxying with a filler the plates to the underside of the deck and holding them in place with duct tape. Then the following day after the epoxy has hardened to drill new holes through the G10 and mounting the cleats with Life Calk on the bolts. This turns out well.
145. We install an electronics package to 1. Modernize, and 2. Meet the requirements of the Chicago Mackinac Race. A new ships VHF Radio with the DSC and MMSI numbers programmed. A new handheld VHF Radio with the DSC and MMSI numbers programmed. Then a Garmin chartplotter at the navigators table outputting to a Display on the mast. The mast display is a nice idea, but finding a bracket to hold it was ridiculously expensive. I build a fiberglass bracket in my workshop in three stages, and then install it on the boat. The mast display is programmed to show: The compass course to the next turn in the race; The distance to that turning point; The current Compass Course; and the Boat Speed according to GPS. The Chartplotter also has a feature to emit WIFI, we acquire a Tablet so that we can see on deck what the GPS screen below displays.
146. From little nits from the Waukegan Race, I install additional telltales on the #1 jib, and cut off an excessively long leach cord. I also move the reef line cars on the boom aft to a position that will work for the mainsail when needed.
147. There are cubbies in the wall of the cockpit where suntan lotion, or winch handles could go. Being fiberglass, and the prospect of things rolling around, the berth under there will hear the clattering amplified. I cut and install some padding that is perfect.
148. In the Waukegan race we learn that hoisting the spinnaker is not easy. The halyard comes out the of the mast right at deck level with no way to “jump” the halyard. Additionally, the lay of the line is chaffing on the exit pulley with no good way of re-routing it. We buy a different style exit box, cut a hole up high and pull the halyard out through this new hole and it is now modernized. I build a plate out of aluminum, matching the curve of the spar and cover the hole where the old exit box was removed.
149. When the boat came to the Harbor the first time this year, it was put on its mooring can. Only the shackle on the mooring bridle has put many chips in the paint on the waterlline. Immediately I get a plastic 55 gallon drum, cut it in half, cut an eye on top of it and bring it to the mooring can and place it over the can. We used this style of protection on another boat years ago and it works well through the remainder of the season.
150. Using the SWR meter to check the VHF antenna tune, again like last year it is reading infinity, which means something is bad. It may be the wiring, or the antenna itself. This is a deck stepped mast. I use the new aluminum plate (from #148 above) at the base of the mast by removing it and fishing out the VHF wire connection. Upon examination, the prior owner(s) had put a new connector on the wire from the radio to the base of the mast, but had not soldered the wire in the middle as the connector instructions describe. I solder it. SWR meter now shows the reading as “Excellent.” Excellent I say!
151. I check the acid levels in the three ships batteries, a little water is added.
152. At the top of a the mast is a windspeed and wind angle instrument. Clearly it isn’t moving well. I go up to the top of the mast and remove the wand that holds the two devices and bring it to the deck. Disassembling the wind vane, I can see spider webs wrapped around the shaft many times. Delicately, I remove the spider webs and put a spot of thin oil on it. Next I take the spinner off for the windspeed. As it spins 100% of the time, the amount of spider webs is much, much greater. Again delicately I remove the spider webs, again adding a spot of thin oil. Mounting the wand back on the top of the mast, I can see it spins at the same RPM as the spinners on the boats around us.
What Others Did:
- Got a new bucket to replace a cracked one, with ropes added and taped in middle of handle.
- Cabin hatch was sanded and varnished.
- Halyards installed.
- Steel cotter pins replaced with stainless pins.
- Cockpit cubbies painted.
- Compass fluid filled.
- Bottom is painted.
- Self igniting light arrived for Lifesling.
- Some cushions are re-covered by my Sister, and they are installed.
The next owner is really going to enjoy this boat.
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