Expensive progress

This evening I’ve placed a big order with Jimmy Green Marine for all the Dyneema and Low Friction Rings that I need for the Mizzen. Decided to be very cautious and go oversized from what I had worked out in The mysteries of sizing Dyneema standing rigging, so we are replacing the 6mm stainless steel with 9mm Dynice Dux (with 6mm Dynice Dux for the tensioning lashings.

I also ordered what we need for 6mm Dynice Dux guardrails with gates.

This includes enough chafe protection of the right sizes to protect the Dyneema at the chainplates, mast tangs and stanchions. I realised that I will be able to reuse the dyneema even if we change the stanchions, so the lower guardrail lines are a good place to practice my eye splices before doing the top guardrails and then the shrouds.

I’m going to need to experiment with some prototype mast tangs before I can order all the parts for them but having the actual rope will make that easier.

What is coming next?

April was another record month on SustainableSailing with a 25% increase in views over March which was our busiest month so far.

So we assume there are some new visitors (and an especially warm welcome to the new subscribers).

With this in mind, and also with us being able to able to get on with the refit, it seems an update on what is coming next would be a good idea.

By Sabbatical in April 2022

Our first priority is the aft cabin work that is required to get the mizzen mast up with it’s new dyneema stays. So that means finishing the chainplates and the work to better support the mizzen mast foot (which is connected with reconfiguring the double bed in the aft cabin).

Then we have two paths that we can work on. Inside (and in poor weather) we can continue with the aft cabin remodelling. Outside we can get everything ready to put the mizzen mast up (which is quite a long list).

You can see our first draft changes to the aft cabin layout here since then the ideas have only changed a little. Once the main work is done the mattress can be adjusted, the whole cabin insulated and the headlining fitted – that will be our first “finished” space as our comfortable place to sleep in a warm, nice looking cabin.

After the mizzen and aft cabin our next task is going to be the work on and under the foredeck. That includes modifying the bow roller. We want to be able to securely self stow and launch our Spade anchor; to have a roller for mooring lines that is clear of the anchor; to have points for the yankee, forestay. We want to have a plan and the basics in place for both a code zero and an asymmetric spinnakers (either via direct connection to the new roller structure or or a way to have a removable bowsprit). We will do the structural work to reconfigure the old anchor and chain lockers for our new windlass and inner forestay. We wrote about this in Plans for anchoring and not a lot has changed except that we hope to get our existing bow roller changed locally now that I have managed to remove it.

Then a few basics (3 holes to fill above the waterline – old shower outlet, old bilge pump and engine exhaust) and we can get on with the bilge (remove old water tank, new bilge pumps, new water tanks) so that we have done everything below the motor. That will allow us to fit the propeller shaft (cutlass bearing, dripless seal and aquadrive) and so be able to finally install the electric motor and batteries.

Meanwhile once the mizzen is up we can properly check the plans for the solar panels and wind vane self steering. The solar will come first.

At this point we can fit the new chainplates for the main mast (some dry weather needed) and do all the rigging work. In bad weather there will be all the interior wiring and plumbing for the galley.

Somewhere in all this we will have decided what to do with the guardrails. That is connected with decisions about the solar panels but also whether we keep what we have or replace them (several have been bent, the line guides on the top of the stanchions have significant UV damage, we would like higher lines for better security).

We have lots of painting to do including antifouling below the waterline (after removing the existing paint, possibly needing a new epoxy barrier coat); hull topsides (the gel coat is too tired to be worth us restoring); decks (to improve non-slip and hide changes/repairs) and probably a quick spray of the inside to look brighter and cleaner.

Lots of other jobs won’t happen before we launch (hopefully in time for my sabbatical in April 2022) so we won’t have done much more to the galley, we won’t have washbasins in either head or the shower in the forward head. The forecabin will be untouched so just for storage. No new headlining in the main saloon.

Instrumentation/electronics will be minimal. New bulkhead compass, new depth sounder, new AIS (transmit and receive), new VHF radio, android tablet for navigation (phones as backup), navigation lights and some internal LED lighting.

There are lots of other smaller jobs (like cleaning and refitted the connection from the steering to the rudder stock) and a few big ones that don’t depend on us (eg the boatyard fitting the new toe rails).

Before we move to living aboard and cruising the world

Following the 2022 season we can get on with “finishing” more things

Inside

  • finish the galley with an extended worktop making it a full U shape, gimbled cooking, fridge, storage
  • finish the forward heads with basin and shower. Reconfigure the doors so that it can be a good “dressing space” for the forecabin.
  • finish the aft heads with basin
  • forecabin to be made into a nice guest cabin (and good storage when no guests)
  • replace chart table with Refleks diesel heater and storage (on the go chart work in the cockpit, planning on the saloon table), fit hot water storage and radiators from the Refleks
  • New headlining throughout to match the aft cabin (with insulation everywhere), nice LED lighting everywhere
  • Full navigation suite using Raspberry Pi’s and Open Source projects such as OpenCPN and SignalK. Other Raspberry Pi’s for “office work” and play. One fully configured Raspberry Pi navigation system stored with a screen and battery in a Faraday cage to be available should everything else be destroyed by lightning).

Above decks

  • Fit windvane self steering (either a Cape Horn or a Hydrovane)
  • Improve wheelhouse (stronger and opening front, full but removable enclosure). Some ideas here.
  • New sails, furlers and extra cockpit winches to take us towards our ideal sail plan

And onwards

The aim will do have all this complete before we move to live aboard. After that hopefully the only remaining big tasks will be a Watermaker (needed if we are going to do our own clothes washing and have showers without visiting marinas) and getting the Plastic Recycling to work onboard. However, we will be cruising with tools and materials so that we can maintain and repair as much as possible ourselves as we go.

Progress on Visit 3 in 2021 (part 2)

Today we managed to make more progress on the aft cabin chainplate ply backing plates. We have drilled through from the deck holes to ensure accurate positioning and so we can use bolts to apply pressure when we fit. We have also attached the smaller ply backing sheets.

We also gave the sides of the aft cabin, that we revealed yesterday, a really good clean. Noticed that the tabbing for the bulkhead at the foot of our bed needs a little attention.

We also cut away the front of the deeper wardrobe at the entrance to the aft cabin. Will make it seem a lot more open as you come down the corridor. It also makes space for the seat at the side of the bed.

The epoxy wasn’t dry enough to fit the ply backing plates so that is a job for another day 😊

Progress on Visit 3 in 2021 (part 1)

Today we have removed all 6 chainplate bolts that are accessible from the aft cabin. See Feeling vindicated by chainplate condition. Also one mooring cleat and the pushpit bolts (which had no backing plate at all).

Then we have prepared the largest plywood backing plates. These go the full length of the aft cabin under the hull shelf that supports the deck. They are 9mm marine ply, thickened epoxy will ensure a smooth, even bed between the shelf and the ply.

This will be supplemented by extra localised backing plates for the cleat and pushpit.

In the picture you can see another, smaller 9mm ply backing plate on top of the large one. This will be a backing plate for all 3 chainplates per side, attached with slightly thickened epoxy. Below that will be a third, smaller backing plate of 10mm G10.

The next job has been preparing the aft cabin to fit the backing plates. After a lot debate we decided to remove the ply lining from the cabin sides. This will make the backing plates easier to fix and we will be able to fit a lot more insulation between the stringers.

We have sanded the underside of the deck shelf ready for the ply backing plate.

Hoping to do the first epoxying tomorrow, possibly. Meanwhile the temperature is plummeting so retreating to the cabin with the heaters.

We did get to measure all the existing stainless steel rigging. As we suspected 6mm for the mizzen and 8mm for the main mast.

Late evening progress

Well we arrived at Vida at 11.20pm and decided it was worth connecting our new mains consumer unit before bed.

We can now use the full 16amp boatyard supply. At the moment I’ve wired in a couple of extension leads. Already a nice tidy up possible from the way we have managed with a “consumer” unit designed for tents.

We are using a cheap domestic consumer unit at the moment. Obviously not a long term solution, but our plans are not stable enough yet to get a marine one which we will probably need to make a custom cabinet for.

Progress on Visit 2 in 2021

Rather than returning to Friday updates I thought I’d share progress bu visits. Our first visit in 2021 was really just a checkup and a nicer place to work from. Last weekend we managed a couple of nights and made some real progress 🙂

Most of our progress has left Vida looking a bit more naked 🙂

We have got the bow roller, anchor locker hatch, pullpit and guardrails off. We found that the pin for the forestay was pretty worn.

Also the hole it was using has been elongated.

There was a lot of water trapped under some of the pullpit legs

We (Jane) have managed to clean up the anchor locker a lot

I was delighted that it was much easier than I expected to remove the bow roller and that it looks straightforward to have it adapted for our Spade anchor and new forestay setup. As well as extending it out forward a bit so that the anchor fits better and doesn’t hit the boat, we will be adding some extra length coming aft with extra bolts to counteract the leverage of the anchor. We will also add means to ensure that neither the chain nor anchor can “escape” and chafe through the forestay.

The anchor locker is going to be radically changed. I wrote about our plans in this post about anchoring. Over the summer we can thrash out the details. First job will be to make a mock-up, of the changes to the bow roller, using plywood to give to the local fabricator as a template

The pullpit will probably sit on pads which will help keep water out, otherwise it won’t change. The anchor locker lid will be partly fixed and partly opening but it is starting to split open so will need some reinforcement/rebuilding.

Hopefully we have made some progress on getting a new toe rail fitted (was arranged for and paid for by the previous owner but still not fitted 2 years later).

No pictures, but we also removed two u-bolts from the cabin roof having discovered they were leaking a little over the winter. Once things have dried out we will replace any damaged core with thickened epoxy and not refit them.

I’ve also removed all the shrouds and tangs from the mizzen mast so that we can start on the dyneema replacements.

We have now made a detailed workplan now for fitting the chainplates in the aft cabin without causing to much disruption to our sleeping arrangements. Basically we will return home late at night after doing epoxy work so that we don’t have to move everything to sleep in the saloon. The marine ply is now ordered.

We have also ordered the “Ecor Pro DryBoat 12 DH1200 INOX 12 Litre Boat Dehumidifier” that we had planned on getting so that we can leave it on and hopefully ensure that nothing gets mouldy again. To fully achieve that will require us to finish the insulation and headlining but that can’t be done in the aft cabin until the chainplates are done and the mizzen mast support strengthened and the bed rearrangements completed. So a few weeks off.

As part of that we are preparing for a first fit of our new mains consumer unit. So far we have been using a camping unit but this will allow us to use more electrical things at the same time. Later it will be properly wired into Victron Multiplus units (see House Battery Bank: Should we go 48 Volt?) which will be connect to both a proper mains supply connection point and to the battery bank. We have gone for a large unit so every socket on the boat will have it’s own (appropriately sized) circuit breaker.

One slight gotcha was that by the end of this visit I’d used up my bandwidth for the month on my tablet (which also acts as a hotspot). Hadn’t really planned for 6.5 hours of zoom meetings, uploading edited video etc.

So a good amount done. In our next visit (weather permitting) we should start to see more things being created rather than removed 🙂

More reasons for our new sail plan

So I wrote about our new sail plan, one of the key features is that we will not have any “traditional” roller reefing headsails. That decision has been mostly driven by wanting Dyneema rigging which can be inspected and changed by us and which reduces weight so we will heel less. Also it is going to save us a lot of money and should be more reliable.

There are more benefits though. Although it is perfectly possible to leave our furled sails (yankee jib and code zero or asymmetric spinnaker) hoisted ready for use, it is also easy to lower them and take them down below while still furled. There are 3 key benefits to doing this:

  • Longer sail life (less exposure to UV and wind)
  • Better anchoring. Something I’ve learnt from Attainable Adventure Sailing is that reducing windage forward means that you lie more consistently at anchor rather than sheering from side to side. Not only is this more comfortable but you are also putting less angled strain on the anchor which is therefore much less likely to get pulled out of the the seabed.
  • This great video from Ran Sailing Tie everything down🌪 Winds of 60 knots are coming! – Ep. 248 shows another. When you see them safe, but a bit uncomfortable, in a marina side on to very high winds you that they are heeling more due to the windage on their two rolled heasdsails. They can’t do anything about this as the sails would have to be unfurled in order to lower them (impossible, dangerous and probably destructive of the sails in those winds).

At almost the same time Delos had strong winds while alongside, this time being blown onto the dock. Again reducing the windage would have made things less uncomfortable (but is not possible with roller reefing).

Of course we recognise the disadvantages. We will have more foredeck work. We think it is worth it (at least if you can have a cutter rig which reduces the individual sail sizes). We don’t have to swap between different headsails (except in light winds) which makes it a lot easier.

Our desired long-term sail plan

I’ve made some progress on where we want to end up in terms of a sail-plan that is efficient in a wide range of wind strengths and angles. I’ve also, hopefully, got to the point where we will be able to get sailing without having to buy any new sails to start with. After all we are starting with 12 sails!

Here is the original sail plan.

Sadly, our current mainsail is much smaller (it was made for the roller furling that had been added to the back of the mast), it also does not currently have slides for the mast track and it has no reefing points.

Our genoa uses an old Furlex roller reefing and the sail shape, especially when reefed is terrible as this picture shows (it should not be all baggy in the middle of the forestay).

Traditionally Rivals have a fairly poor reputation for speed in light winds (and a fantastic reputation for ability to keep going in very strong winds). When you look at the sail plan it isn’t surprising (very little in the way of light wind sails, all sails set within the forestay apart from the small symmetrical spinnaker). In the last 50 years there have been huge improvements in what is possible (such as Code Zero “genoas” and Asymmetrical Spinnakers) compared to carrying 5 hank on jibs of different sizes as shown in the drawing. The switch to a roller furling main and genoa will have increased easy of changing sail sizes but at great cost in efficiency.

We believe we can now do better, especially in front of the main mast.

So this is where we want to get to in the long term.

Mizzen: shorter boom to keep it out of the way of the wind vane self steering and also the solar panels. Fully battened (so that you can use it as a steadying sail without it getting damaged by flapping) and a fat head for more area. Two slab reefs – again useful for a steadying sail and as more options for small sails for storm conditions.

Main: Our new boom is a bit longer. So we will get a little more sail area without needing much roach. Will be taking advice (and be affected by price) as to whether to go fully battened for longer life but more expensive sail and potential need for much upgraded slides for the track in the main mast. 3 reefing points so we won’t have a trisail (with choice of either reefed mizzen or 3rd reef in the main we think we can go small enough and have a backup option). Will be loose footed. We will probably make a stack pack for it (although will keep it as small as possible as the boom is already quite high due to the wheelhouse so we want to minimise extra windage).

Staysail: Using a removable inner forestay (supported by new runners) we will have a hank on staysail makde of pretty heavy Dacron so that it can be reefed to be a storm jib.

Yankee Jib: Designed to work well as a typical cutter rig with the staysail. This will be around 100% with a relatively high clew (works well with the staysail and keeps it well clear of waves). This will be set using a continuous line furler. That means it can’t be reefed (partially unrolled). It is either all set or all rolled away. The continuous line furler has an anti- torsion stay in a pocket on the leading edge of the sail. This supports the front of the sail and passes the twist of the furling up the sail. Critically it will be set just behind the forestay (like a Solent ring). However, as it is not the forestay and does not have a structural anti-torsion stay, it can be lowered to the deck while rolled up when not needed. When at anchor in storm conditions it massively reduces windage and also surging from side to side if you have no rolled headsails up. With a normal roller furling genoa you have to unroll it in order to lower it (impossible and dangerous at anchor in strong winds). Plus sails that are not left up last much much longer. We might be able to save money initially by using a dyneema line instead of an anti-torsion stay and not having a furler.

Forestay: we need to have some work done on our bow roller to fit our anchor. As part of this we will move the attachment point forward a little so that the furler for the yankee jib will be clear of it. As the forestay will not be used for any roller reefing or roller furling sails it can be dyneema, the same as the rest of the rigging. I have designed a way to neatly connect a Dyneema forestay (and tension it/remove the gains in length from creep). The changes to the bow roller will include a guard to make sure that neither the anchor not the anchor chain can ever chafe against the dyneema.

Bowsprit for Code Zero or Asymmetric Spinnaker: we will fit a removable bowsprit such as this one from Selden. This is the key to significantly improving light wind performance. Using a second continuous line furler we will be able to fly either a huge Code Zero (flat sail for going upwind in light conditions where we would be very under powered at the moment) or an Asymmetric spinnaker (much easier to use than a traditional spinnaker although not quite as good for going directly downwind). We could save quite a bit of money initially by using “socks” rather than a furler for these sails.

Downwind extras: We have two more options for downwind sailing. One is a Mizzen Staysail (like an Asymmetric Spinnaker flying from the mizzen mast). The second should be good for sailing directly downwind in the fairly strong trade winds. That is to add a hank on jib (of appropriate size) to the forestay. The yankee jib can then be poled out on one side and the hanked on jib/genoa poled out on the other side. This is the classic downwind setup for ocean cruisers.

Getting there

So if that is where we want to be. Now we just need to get from A to B.

First task is all the chainplates and the bow roller so we can get the rigging sorted and the masts up.

Second task is to fit some form of hank to all our jibs/genoas (that won’t damage a dyneema stay) then we can use any of them on either our forestay or inner forestay (until they self destruct as some of them are original and so over 40 years old).

Third task is to fit slides to our existing mainsail (and possibly some reefing points).

This will allow us to get out and start sailing. Then we can prioritise new sails (although I’m sadly confident that the Bowsprit, Code Zero and Asymmetric spinnaker are a long way off at the moment).

The goal

This setup means we have enough choice of sail area through easy switches between sails that we don’t need any roller reefing (expensive, heavy, poor sail shape, high maintenance). All with 8 sails. So for example to go upwind

In light air: Mizzen, Main, Staysail, Code zero

First reduction: raise furled yankee and unfurl, furl code zero and lower. Left with: Mizzen, Main, Staysail, Yankee

Second reduction: lower staysail. Left with: Mizzen, Main, Yankee

Third reduction: swap from yankee to staysail. Left with: Mizzen, Main, Staysail

Storm: Get everything small: Mainsail with 3rd reef and reefed staysail (optionally swap main for reefed mizzen if it gives better balance)

Quick response to a squall: Lower the main and furl the yankee for a “Jigger” rig of Mizzen and Staysail (with reefing options for both).

Throughout the sail reductions we can reef the main and/or the mizzen to maintain balance. Very often to be very close hauled the mizzen will be lowered as it stops the main being sheeted in so hard.

Whilst it looks at first glance that there will be a lot of wet, dangerous foredeck work it is much easier to manage than the original sailplan where switching down a jib size would mean lowering a sail and going right to the forestay to unhank it (during which time it will trying to throw you overboard), then hanking on a smaller jib, swapping the sheets and hoisting it. In normal sailing there will be no need to go right forward (the yankee and code zero can be left up while furled until it is safe to bring them down). The staysail can have a downhaul so can be just pulled down to the deck and held there while you lash it to the rail – anyway it is much further aft. All the mainsail reefing will be done from the mast with the dinghy on deck providing a place to sit with a short lifeline so you can’t go overboard.

There are plenty of examples of Rivals being able to sail to windward in a Force 9. This sail plan should allow us to do that (with no illusions that it will be pleasant or comfortable) as well as go much faster in light winds.

Downwind: Again we have plenty of choices with easy twin headsails or the Asymmetric spinnaker plus the mizzen staysail for fun. Also the potential to use either the staysail or the mizzen sheeted in hard to reduce rolling.

Conclusion

We think we have a route forward that is reasonably affordable and ends up with a fantastic rig that will significantly improve both light wind speed and be far better in storm conditions compared to where we started and also compared to what was available in the 1970’s.