When you look at the strong opinions about the way you end your Dyneema shrouds it makes all the other strongly held opinions seem conflict free 🙂
This is a bit chicken and egg in the sense that decisions about
a) how you will tension your shrouds at the connection to the chainplate and b) how you can connect shrouds to the mast
will have a definite impact on which options for terminating your shrouds are relevant.
There are very strong opinions expressed with fervour about how strong some of these solution are and how long they might last. Some people will argue that some solutions must not be used to cross oceans yet I think people have crossed oceans with all these solutions.
So what are the options?
Plain eye splice with optional chafe sleeve. I’ve only seen this suggested at the mast. There the eye splice can be either hooked over a Colligo Cheeky Tang [Tula’s Endless Summer] or a attached to the loop of a stainless steel T fitting with a luggage Tag loop (sometimes called a Cow Hitch) [Free Range Sailing].
Eye splice onto a Low Friction Ring. Can be tensioned with a lashing or lashed to something else such as a shackle. [Free Range Sailing]
Eye splice with optional chafe sleeve onto an open stainless steel thimble. Can be used at top of bottom of a shroud, plus for deadeyes [Rigging Doctor, Sailing Zingaro]
Eye splice with optional chafe sleeve onto closed stainless steel thimble. Can be used at top of bottom of a shroud, plus for deadeyes [Sailing Zingaro, Tula’s Endless Summer]
Eye splice with optional chafe sleeve onto a Colligo line terminator. Can be used at top of bottom of a shroud, no need for a deadeye [Tula’s Endless Summer]
Blue Wave stainless steel eye clamped to Dyneema. Can be used at top of bottom of a shroud (with a turnbuckle) [I haven’t seen these in use].
So I’ll consider them all and how they are typically used at the mast or chainplate as appropriate. First a picture of each (I haven’t included every combination of a chafe sleeve or not.
Or duck and run time?
If you can afford it then Colligo Marine have stock items for every type of mast connection (of which, if your mast is suitable I think the Cheeky Tang is brilliant for saving weight and reducing the number of components and connections) and for the chainplate they have solutions for both turnbuckles and lashings (or both). They are really well sorted for ensuring the Dyneema bends very gently and also that loads are very evenly distributed to Clevis pins etc.
But at the same time the Colligo Marine stuff is really expensive. We would be talking about thousands of pounds per mast. So they are far outside our budget.
Some of the solutions concern me. Attaching a Dyneema loop to anything by a Cow Hitch or Luggage Tag does not seem suitable for a critical high load like a shroud. To me the bend radius looks very tight and will surely be a weak point.
Also I’m not keen on the Blue Wave terminals (they have a range of them with different connections). I’m sure they are carefully engineered but for me a key safety feature of Dyneema is being able to visually inspect it.
While I think Low Friction Rings are awesome for lots of applications, I’m not convinced that they are a good fit for this purpose. If you fit a large eye splice to avoid a tight bend then it looks like the low friction ring could fall out. If the ring is held in firmly then either the dyneema has to bend sharply or there is a lot of time consuming labour to apply whippings. Even then if the ring is used for tensioning via multiple strands of lashing line people have reported a tendency for them to bunch together and jam.
I think the open thimbles look a bit problematic. In some of the images they look like they have opened up and an open sharp end is very close to the dyneema. It feels to me as if they are a bit close to a catastrophic failure if something catches on them and bends them open.
With both types of thimble a critical issue is what they are attached to. With their first attempt Sailing Zingaro used wide toggles into the thimble and it created point loadings on the sides as they didn’t sit properly. With a Cleivis pin the diameter of the pin might be so small relative to the thimble that again their is a point loading. This is most likely to be a problem at the mast end when trying to find a way to connect to the existing fittings on the mast (or a deadeye to a metal chainplate). Thimbles are at their best with a lashing either for tensioning or to lash them to something.
Conclusion for Vida
Now that we have decided on our Dyneema chainplate solution (but with a closed stainless steel thimble instead of a low friction ring) the lower end of our shroud is obvious, a matching closed stainless steel thimble. That should make tensioning as simple as possible and it is a pretty cheap solution. As our chainplate solution means we don’t need a deadeye or a toggle we save quite a bit of money and weight.
The top of the shrouds is more tricky. Consider this example of what we have now.
All our shrouds end up at through bolts and there are these riveted plates to stop the bolt holes becoming elongated. All the current shrouds have swaged end fittings that are held by a clevis pin through two plates (or tangs). On the mizzen we have 4 x single connections and 2 x doubles. On the main we have 2 x double and 2 x single (I am ignoring the main mast backstay and forestay at the moment).
One option (the cheapest) would be to get longer clevis pins and prise apart the plates/tangs far enough to fit a closed thimble in (but if we are looking at 11mm Dyneema shrouds on the main mast that is going to be quite a lot of bending of the stainless steel).
Another option would be to fit slightly longer bolts through the mast so that instead of bending the plates/tangs apart we separate them at the bolt with a few washers. We still fit the longer clevis pins.
If we could afford it then Colligo Cheeky Tangs would be great.
We are looking at a fourth option which is to make our own version of a Cheeky Tang. We start with a longer bolt through the mast. On each side of the mast we have a two large penny washers with the largest diameter spacer we can find between them (looks like about 25mm). A dyneema look goes over the spacer and the penny washers stop it falling off. That gives a bend radius of over 2:1. We would join the tops of the penny washers with a small bolt (or maybe a cable tie) to stop the dyneema loop jumping out. The lower side of the outer penny washer would be cut away to provide a smooth route out for the dyneema.
No decision yet until we get the sizing sorted and see how the thimbles fit in the existing tangs.
We know that our decision making process can seem strange to others. 🙂 For example why would we remove a working diesel engine to go for an electric motor. We imagine there will be many who will also be wondering why on earth we are switching from “normal” stainless steel rigging to Dyneema (just to be clear not all at once though).
Vida has a Ketch rig. So two masts and they are entirely independent of each other (no Triatic stay connecting them). We think we are the only Rival 38 with a ketch rig (one other has been converted from ketch to sloop). It is something we like, not just because ketches look great.
We love the safety features of a ketch, obviously having a spare mast to get you home if one breaks is a big one. Having more but smaller sails makes things lighter to move, hoist, reef, and trim. There are more sail plan options when the wind gets up (or if something breaks). The mizzen can be used to stabilise the boat both when sailing and when at anchor.
Against that there is more stuff (to buy, inspect and maintain), more weight, generally slower performance (particularly upwind where the mizzen doesn’t help much and adds windage).
When it comes to the rigging the costs are clearly higher (not quite double because while there are about twice as many components they are smaller sizes than they would be with a sloop rig).
The mizzen mast is a replacement (not sure when or why it was replaced). The main mast is sound although it has had quite a few changes made to it over the years and needs some freshening up. We have removed the mainsail roller furling which had been fitted to the back of the mast and got a new boom with slab reefing.
The rigging is about 8 years old (but some of it is original) and insurance only provides cover for the first 10 years.
So we know we need to be working to refresh the rigging before we end up living aboard and crossing oceans in a few years time.
Staying with Stainless Steel
When it comes to refreshing the rigging the obvious choice would be to get a professional rigger to do the job and stay with stainless steel. We would have to change a lot more of the rigging if we did it ourselves as the stainless steel wires go into swage fittings and that isn’t a DIY option. Alternatively at considerable cost when changing the stays we could switch to Sta-Lok fittings which we could fit ourselves.
As we are refitting with the goal of living aboard and world cruising in a few years we are taking a long term perspective.
As you replace more things to achieve longer term peace of mind and reliability the cost of staying with stainless steel grows. At the moment it is all a bit of a mixed bag of original and replacement parts. We don’t have detailed records of what was changed when. So we have a mixture of stainless steel (main mast) and original bronze (mizzen) turnbuckles. We have a mixture of stainless steel and bronze toggles. Some of the bronze toggles have stainless steel pins and some still bronze. We have all original bronze chainplates which have not been removed and checked (I have written several posts about the issues and our solutions, start here). Some of the connecting plates etc at the mast are starting to rust and there are mixtures of stainlesss steel and aluminium components where there is some galvanic corrosion.
We would be looking at thousands of pounds to completely re-rig in stainless steel and that would probably need to add having custom made stainless steel chainplates that would have a known condition and be long enough for better backing plates.
Insurance companies are accepting Dyneema rigging. It has been around for 20 years and there is no recorded failure anywhere in the world from professionally done splicing. However stainless steel cases have a huge amount of claims
Dyneema rigging potentially will outlast stainless steel. Only severe chafing from something very sharp could affect it, but the same way it would affect wire anyway. I have recently worked on a boat that I rigged 15 years ago and which has done 6000 miles in that time – there was absolutely no deterioration visible.
Weight. Much, much lighter than stainless steel. This reduces the loads on the boat and reduces heeling making sailing faster and more comfortable. This has driven the adoption on racing boats.
DIY. Dyneema line is easy to work with using very basic tools. So it is perfectly possible for us to do all the work ourselves.
There are no special components (especially to connect and tension wires), so a cruising boat can easily carry the spares needed to re-rig the entire boat anywhere in the world. Potentially all you need is line, thimbles and low friction rings. Not only can you carry everything but it is small, light and won’t rust.
Stronger. Dyneema rigging has to be sized for stretch which means that when you size for the same amount of stretch you have many times more strength.
Inspectable. There are no hidden parts, all the Dyneema can be seen and checked. The two forms of damage (chafe and UV) are very visible long before failure.
Dyneema is stretchy compared to Stainless Steel so you have to fit larger sizes (eg as per above 11mm instead of 8mm).
Dyneema is vulnerable to chafing (rubbing) wear. However, problems are very visible and it is possible to protect it with sleeves or seizing.
Dyneema is vulnerable to UV degredation. Again this is visible when it happens and most chafe protection will also provide UV protection.
We are switching to Dyneema first for our Mizzen mast and then for the main mast (except the forestay) for the following reasons:
We can do everything to switch to Dyneema rigging ourselves which saves a lot of money.
We can sort our concerns with our chainplates to solve the weakest link in the rigging with something that is stronger, that we can inspect, repair and replace ourselves.
We will save a lot of weight which will improve our sailing performance and comfort.
We can carry everything to be able to re-rig everything, anywhere.
We will not have to rely on others expertise to properly check the condition of the rig.
In return we recognise that we are likely to have a few hassles
We might have to hunt more carefully for surveyors and insurers
Tuning the rig will be a slower process (we are going to be using lashings to tension the shrouds and they are slow to untie, tension and tie up).
More work to get us afloat the first time because we are not “just managing” with the problem chainplate.
We will not be able to replace the forestay with Dyneema as we have a roller furling system. This includes an aluminium extrusion which covers the forestay and rotates to roll up the genoa sail. This would quickly chafe through the Dyneema. We don’t plan to review this until either the genoa sail or the roller furler need replacing.
Mizzen mast first due to the problem chainplate. Making the smallest changes to the mast that we can, so reusing the existing connections as much as possible.
Sail for at least one season.
If all has gone well then do the same to the Main Mast.
At some point in the future upgrade the mast connections to use Colligo Cheeky Tangs for simplicity, strength and weight saving (but this will cost a couple of thousand pounds). The good news is that this change wouldn’t require any changes to the rest of the rigging (just slip the top thimble out so the eye splice goes over the Cheeky Tang. This will shorten the shroud/stay a little but the lashing will be able to cope with the change.
In my last post “Chainplate update, more challenges” I linked to a whole bunch of YouTube channels where people have switched their rigging from Stainless Steel Wire to Dyneema Synthetic rope.
I’m going to write more on why we plan to switch to Dyneema, fully recognising that this is not yet seen as the norm. Also on the connections that are needed at the mast end of each shroud/stay.
Here though, I’m focusing (again) on the chainplates. I’ve detailed the problems we have with our chainplates, although it is worth noting that these problems are not typical of other designs. We don’t see many boats with bronze chainplates and we don’t see many boats where the chainplate is basically just a bronze eye bolt through the side deck with a backing plate (the chainplates for our main mast cap shrouds are bolted to right angle connection from a plate bolted to the bulkhead rather than just a backing plate).
Normally on boats this age, there is a long stainless steel plate that goes down into the cabin with multiple bolts either to the hull of the boat or to a main bulkhead. This plate sticks out of the deck for the shrouds to attach to it. With newer, higher performance boats the engineering of these has to be much more sophisticated as rig loads are greater and the general material in the hull much lighter and thinner.
What we have seen is that it is very normal to need to refurbish or replace the chainplates on boats that are over 40 years old especially when there are plans to cross oceans. So we have seen Tula’s Endless Summer, Beau and Brandy, Kittiwake, and others who have had to do this work. There have been a variety of solutions from upgrading to Titanium, direct replacements, or switching to through bolted external chainplates.
We however, are not looking at a refurbishment (doesn’t solve the problem of the thread being too short for a thicker backing plate) or a replacement with similar (cost and not ideal attachment point for Dyneema shrouds).
When thinking about our chainplates while planning for Dyneema rigging one of the practical issues to sort is the attachment points. I will do a separate post about our plans for the ends at the mast. At the lower end you need a means to tension the shroud and a way to attach it to the chainplate.
As I have been reading about Dyneema rigging it has struck me that lots of people have multiple extra fittings to adapt the connections at the ends. It allows existing chainplates and mast fittings to be reused, essentially via adapters.
So if we have got to do work on our chainplates anyway I started wondering if it would be possible to end up with a chainplate which we could directly connect the tensioning lashing to. The only solution on the market is the Colligo one but that would cost hundreds of £ per shroud and would not solve any of the problems with the chainplates themselves.
These are not generally being used as chainplates for shrouds, but for sheeting, temporary attachment points, removable inner forestays and the like. Most boats won’t be able to consider these for their chainplates because
they only make sense for dyneema shrouds
they only make sense if you are tensioning your rig with dyneema lashings, not turnbuckles
I’ve only worked out how they can be used to replace chainstays like ours that are in the side deck and that don’t have engineered ties to the boat
But for us, I have realised is that it should be simple for us to make these ourselves, using the backing plates we have already designed. Not only that, but they will be easy to inspect at sea and even replace at sea ourselves if needed.
Making and fitting the dyneema chainplate
I don’t think it is going to be very difficult – but don’t hold me to that 😉
Remove the existing chainplate and old backing plate.
Drill out a significantly larger hole where the chainplate bolt was. This is to make sure that we get to clean dry deck core. Later it will be filled with thickened epoxy and then a hole drilled in the epoxy for the dyneema loop. This way the deck core will be protected from damp by the epoxy. It also means we will have the option to angle the hole so that it is aligned with the shroud (currently they are not).
Now fit the backing plate using thickened epoxy so that the hole in the deck is in the centre. We might apply pressure from below or drill a small hole in the centre to allow a light line to pull it up tight through the deck hole.
With the backing plate fitted we can now fill the hole in the deck with thickened epoxy.
Drill from the deck through the thickened epoxy and through the backing plate. Hole should be big enough to thread a doubled dyneema line through from below. I’m going to use dyneema one size up from the size used for the shrouds and I’m going to cover it with a chafe sleeve.
Round and smooth the edges of the hole at both top and bottom to minimise chafe when the loop is tensioned.
Make a dyneema loop. I’m going to follow a simplified version from the video below. It uses a very simple overhand knot which can’t slip because the loop is passed through eye splices that stop the knot from slipping. It seems to have a lot of advantages for this (easy to create, large knot, very strong and tested). Mine doesn’t need the soft shackle eye which makes it even simpler. It will just be a loop, closed by the knot at the open end. This probably needs to be about as short as I can make it because we want to keep the loop above the deck as small as possible, just suitable for a low friction ring or stainless steel thimble.
At this point we could just thread the loop up through the backing plate and deck, then put the low friction loop in it (and if we wanted a padeye on top of the wheelhouse roof this would be fine).
Alternatively we can make our version waterproof while still keeping it easy to replace ourselves.
For this we need a “washer” made from the same material as our backing plate. The outside diameter should made to just fit inside a short length of plastic pipe. Choose a pipe that is large enough for the knot to easily fit inside it, also a pipe that we can get a waterproof end cap for.
Epoxy the washer onto the backing plate so that the hole lines up. So that the knot fits well against the washer. I will make a large countersink around the hole in the washer (making sure it is nicely rounded and smooth). We are consideing lining the countersink with a thin hard rubber to spread the load a little more evenly over the knot.
Now we fit the length of pipe over the washer so that it is long enough to hide the knot (a marine sealant should be enough to attach it). Any water seeping down the dyneema will be caught in the pipe and you can remove the end cap whenever you wish to drain the water and inspect the knot or even replace the dyneema.
We will put some silicone sealant around the loop as it comes through the deck to reduce the amount of water that can seep down and stop debris slipping down and damaging the dyneema.
If the loop sticking out of the deck is quite long, I’ll put a whipping around it to hold the friction loop/thimble in place.
We will now have a dyneema chainplate. It will be a lot stronger than the dyneema shroud connected to it (because it is made from the next size up dyneema). It will be a lot lighter than any other solution.
There is nothing to corrode, there is nothing we can’t keep spares for and nothing that we can’t replace at sea.
Compared to all the other ways of attaching a dyneema shroud there are fewer components so cheaper, lighter and keeps the lashing much lower to the deck for improved looks and less chance of chafe or snagging on anything.
For improved looks, UV protection and chafe protection we will make covers for the lashings. Probably rectangles of Sunbrella material held on with velcro and ties.
Both Rigging Doctor and Tula’s Endless Summer have videos on how to tension dyneema shrouds with just lashings. Colligo themselves don’t suggest that for boats over 30feet. However, both Wisdom and Adreneline are much longer than Vida and as we have a ketch rig our masts are a lot shorter. We might have a slight advantage as our low friction ring will be so close to the deck that we don’t have to worry so much about it being pulled out of alignment as we tension the lashing.
Compared to every other solution for improving our chainplates and connecting dyneema rigging this seems much cheaper and easier to fit. Plus it is lighter, stronger, tidier, and more functional than any other solution I’ve found. Finally, we can inspect it, maintain it and replace it ourselves, even at sea which is fantastic.
We are very comfortable with our solution to the backing plates / under deck reinforcement: replace the inadequate stainless steel plates that have 4 problems
too small (so the load is not spread far enough which can cause the deck to crack or even complete failure)
made of two layers that can move out of alignment (then they can bend and cause cracking or complete failure)
no tie in to the hull (so the deck can pull away from the hull or crack or fail)
potential for corrosion due to mixed metals (bronze chainplate bolt with stainless steel rigging and stainless steel backing plates).
Note that while there seems to be a common view that Rival yachts have rather under engineered chainplates I have not heard of any actual failures. But the boats are getting older and we have deck cracking around one chainplate.
Our solution with 10mm FR4 board attached with thickened epoxy and the the option of FR4 ties to the hull is going to be a much better solution and one that is ideally suited to DIY. However, we have some remaining problems.
First, the thickness of the deck that the chainplate bolts go through varies. The deck rests on a shelf that is attached to the hull, as it would have been laid up by hand the thickness of the deck and shelf varies. That means a few of the chainplate bolts are barely long enough. So even with the inadequate backing plate the bolt doesn’t extend all the way through the 2nd nut which is used as a lock nut. With a thicker backing plate bedded onto thickened epoxy to ensure even load distribution it might not be possible to fit a lock nut. Any replacement is going to be very expensive (custom bronze fixtures). If they were stainless steel we could replace the double nuts used to lock them on with a nyloc nut and reduce the length of thread needed, but I don’t think these are available for bronze nuts.
I’ll go through the dyneema rigging elsewhere, however, the relevant issue here is how to attach the dyneema to the chainplates. So far in the videos and reading we have done there are three options.
a) A toggle that allows a deadeye (see image below and how to make one by Rigging Doctor) to be attached via a clevis pin. We don’t have this sort of toggle (need Fork to Fork but we have Fork to Spade – examples of both here) at the moment (because of the style of rigging turnbuckle we have). This is the solution used by Rigging Doctor, Zinhgaro and some of Tula’s shrouds. However, none of them have bronze chainplates so there is no issue of mixed metals. So we have the expense of toggles, the risk of corrosion between dissimilar metals, and using a chainplate that has had 43 years of wear on the hole to which the toggle attaches. This solution is complex with so many different components (chainplate, toggle, deadeye, lashing to shroud) that have to be bought/made and fitted.
b) A Colligo marine female Chainplate distributor which Tula used on some of their shrouds. Again we have the cost of these (we would need 14 and the price ranges from over £60 each to hundreds depending on size).
c) A frictionless ring attached to the chainplate by lashing it to a shackle (see the Free Range Sailing video at 15 mins). This is a whole lot cheaper as it is just a shackle and a frictionless ring (so under £20 per shroud).
All 3 solutions don’t solve the dissimilar metals problem as all of them connect something not bronze to the bronze chainplate. All of them rely on there not being too much wear in the 43 year old hole in the bronze chainplate and they don’t help with the problem of the length of the chainplate threads.
But we have come up with a creative solution that is going to be much cheaper, lighter, easier to maintain and stronger. Wait for the next blog post 🙂
For reference here is a grainy image of how one of our chainplates looks on deck.
To attach the rigging turnbuckle (that is used to tension the stainless steel shroud/stay) a toggle is fitted like this. It provides articulation to handle the different alignments of the turnbuckle and chainplate.
Jane has been assembling photos to show the progress we have made in our first year of refitting Vida. As we looked at them we looked a bit more closely at the pictures of our fresh water tank (according to the survey around 400 litres).
You can see a lot of it here.
It is stainless steel and sits under the main cabin floor on top of the encapsulated lead of the keel. It starts just aft of the mast support and continues under the companionway ladder and wet locker to the forward bulkhead of the engine compartment.
The problem is that as we look at the photos we realise there is a lot more rust both inside and outside (as well as horrible crud on the gauge float).
So looks like we will replace it. Having all our drinking water in a single tank which already has rust seems like a risky thing when planning ocean crossings.
To remove the tank we will need to (at least temporarily) remove the companionway steps, the wet locker and several floor beams. That means we are wondering about putting the house batteries at the bottom of the wet locker, directly on top of the keel. That would be great for weight distribution and might solve a future issue of where to add extra house batteries if we need them.
If we fit polypropylene tanks that are a better shape to fit the space we might be able to not lose much water capacity in the process.
But we can’t do much until we can get there and do some careful measuring and disassembly. One of the challenges is that the companionway steps are not central but instead offset to starboard (to make the galley bigger and provide the space for the steering wheel in the cockpit).
As usual we are in that place where things have lasted well for 40 something years and might last a fair bit longer, but with a few years before we will be ready for live aboard cruising it seems sensible to tackle this large jobs now rather than when in some remote part of the world – yes we do plan to go more remote than Anglesey 😉
Found a fantastic video of an incredible yacht refit which has an interior decor that we absolutely love.
You can see the interior in this video.
In this video you can see just what a huge project (in every sense of the word) it was to take a former Whitbread round the world race yacht that was in very poor condition to an amazing (if crazy large) family cruising yacht.
The quality of work is brilliant (but then it is done by a professional yacht builder).
Still we love the interior. A very simple, hard-wearing, modern light look by simply using an airless paint sprayer (such as we have) and a light grey paint.
We are definitely going to do this. We have already mentioned and decided that too much of our varnished timber has too much water damage for us to want to try to restore them (even if we liked the dark timber look).
Not only do we like the simple, clean, bright look. Not only do we like the idea that we should be able to get a reasonable finish without as much work as other options. But it should also be much lower maintenance. Just got to research the right type of paint to use.
Interestingly, there was a great article about the Rival 32 in the latest Practical Boat Owner magazine and at least one had the signature “keyhole” bulkhead painted grey and it looked great. Plus the article was enough to convince every reader that a Rival was the best cruising boat for them. I’m sure it will have at least doubled the value of them all 🙂
So we have a holiday, it being half-term, however, as Manchester is in a tier 3 Lockdown and Wales in a Firebreak, we are at home. It does mean we can take time not just to do jobs and study (including propeller shaft and RYA Yachtmaster course) but also time to reflect on where we have got to and what next.
As we have been talking through where we have go to we realise we have reached the point where we can make some changes:
We have realised that we have now reached the point where we can avoid big/heavy loads to and from the boat. All the major clearing out is done. The largest/heaviest stuff has already been taken.
I’ll create a Van page with details that will be updated as we prepare it for sale, it is a Citroen Dispatch panel van (65 plate), we had the back professionally fitted out with windows, floor, carpet lining, LED lighting and 3 reclining seats with 3 point seatbelts – it has been completely reliable and awesomely useful and flexible.
We had bought the VAN as we were overloading our previous Citroen Berlingo because we had our Sprint 15 Caravan on the roof, bikes inside and caravan behind for holidays. The Van was absolutely brilliant for this.
It proved brilliant when we were refurbishing a house for our sons and for carrying all the rubbish, tools, cushions, timber, electric motor etc for the boat. Several trips with the van full, often towing a very full trailer too.
But now we think we can change down. For the first time, we think we can manage without needing to tow anything. That means we can switch to a 100% electric vehicle (none of them can tow anything). It will take careful planning in what we take when and we will mostly need to cut timber to size at home.
The biggest challenge will be our RIB dinghy after we launch Vida. There is nowhere to store it securely where we need to launch it for our mooring. So we need to keep it at home and take it each time. At the moment it can either go inside the van (if we deflate it) or we could put it on the luggage trailer.
Our Sprint 15
Our Sprint 15 is what really helped us rediscover our love of sailing. We had a long gap due in part to our sons not enjoying sailing and in part my work taking us a long way from the sea. Then a short few sails on my brothers Laser 13 reminded us that we were missing out big time. We tried the Laser Pico that the boys had ignored for years and discovered to nobodies surprise that the two of us didn’t really fit in it. Plus it was really heavy to lift onto the Berlingo roof (and so much wind noise it was horrible).
Almost by chance we found the Sprint 15 and had a half day test sail/training with Windsport International. It was brilliant and unique. We couldn’t find any other dinghy that could sail with 2 adults and that we could manage to lift onto a roof rack (needed because we were going to be towing a caravan). So we bought one, and have had some fantastic times with it (see our video playlist). They are brilliant boats to sail and also have a really friendly class association. Highly recommended 🙂
Anyway, we can’t carry the Sprint 15 on Vida and can’t tow it behind an electric car so it is also going up for sale.
Yup, the Daxara 147 trailer is going to be up for sale too. A really useful size that has been brilliant for taking stuff to the recycling centre, and for both house and boat building projects.
The Next Car
So we have been looking and within our price range/needs there is only one option so far as we can see. It is just under 100 miles to the boat and also to our sons. We need to be able to carry 4 adults and we need to be able to put our RIB dinghy on the roof.
That means a Nissan Leaf. If we get a 30kWh model from around 2017, even allowing for battery degradation (not too much if under 50,000 miles) it should have a range of about 100 miles. We recognise that, at least in winter or with the dinghy on top, we will need to stop between home and the boat for a 20 to 30 minute recharge.
By default the roof rack load limit is not quite enough. However, a towbar can be fitted (not for towing but for bike carriers and the like). With a T-bar on this, where the top is level with the roof bars, the combined weight capacity is nearly 100kg (for a 59kg dinghy). That might be unusual and will probably attract a fair bit of attention but at least it will be within the limits 🙂 It also means we can carry our bikes at other times though 🙂
Looking at the alternatives, the Renault Zoe isn’t approved for roof racks, plus most have leased battery packs costing about £50 a month (for a vehicle that is roughly the same price as a Leaf that is £600 a year more expensive). Only one or two examples of anything else in our price range (so far I’ve seen one Kia Soul but ugh!)
So as soon as we can sell our van we will be going electric for the car. Obviously that fits much better with our sustainable living goals. By doing it now, as soon as we can, we will not only be cutting our carbon footprint and contribution to air pollution significantly but we will also save ourselves a lot of money each year (for the cost of about 30 to 45 minutes longer journey times to/from Vida – currently about 1h45m).
So watch for some more For Sale pages and posts. Get in touch if you are interested in the Van, Sprint 15 or Luggage trailer 🙂
So a quick update on where we are at. The situation for Manchester is still chaos without agreement between the national and local governments regarding the level of lockdown we should be in. However, we are expecting to be more restricted soon (bearing in mind that Manchester has had it’d own lockdown for months anyway). As for travelling to Wales it is hard to find clear guidance as to whether the Welsh government have now made it illegal to travel from either tier 2 (High) or 3 (Very High). We took the view that it would have been wrong to go on Thursday when a ban was expected from 6pm on Friday (still unclear if that has happened). There now seems to be an expectation that a Welsh “Circuit Break” ban for a few weeks will be announced in the morning. We are working on the assumption that we might not be able to get to the boat again this year.
Fortunately we left her in good shape, the most watertight yet. So we are not worried about any problems on board.
We have some jobs we can do at home, while many of these are not urgent as far as launching is concerned they will at least allow us to feel we are making some progress while we can’t get to the boat.
Propeller Shaft: I wrote about the pitting issues in my last post. As none of the pitting is where bearings or seals go we decided to try to tackle it. Where there is pitting which is probably caused by electrical currents – either through poor earthing (electrolytic) or by currents between dissimilar metals (galvanic) – we are going to remove it. Pitting encourages more corrosion. The best way to avoid corrosion in stainless steel is a bright mirror polish and to have not used any other metals (eg saws or files) to achieve it.
So I have started removing the pitting using the angle grinder with a flap sanding disk. None of it is deeper than about 1mm. So far I’ve done about half of it (starting with the worst bits).
Once I have used the 80grit flap sanding disk to remove the pitting the shaft is no longer perfectly round and is definitely not smooth or polished. So I have 50m of a 25mm wide strip of 80 grit Emery Cloth. Using a strip of this wrapped around the shaft it should be possible to get it pretty smooth and round. I then have finer grades to remove the scratches before using a paste with a cloth to polish it as smooth as possible.
That should keep me busy for hours. A new propeller shaft would be a simpler solution but this should be perfectly serviceable for a few more years and saves waste.
Motor Mount brackets: I have the 4 angle brackets that will be bolted to the original engine bearers and which the flexible mounts will be bolted to. Just got another 10 or more holes to drill in them (10mm). That will leave only the 4 holes in the motor frame for the flexible mounts (not quite sure what size they are and the position isn’t finalised yet).
Domestic Battery Box: I’ve got to make some cut-outs in the timber for the nuts where the leads bolt to the busbar so that the busbars can be fitted. I can also make a lid (and adjust the design for a new expectation that the batteries will be lowered into it via opening the cockpit floor).
Motor Throttle Our motor throttle has a 6mm square shaft and I need to make or find a control lever for it. Trying to find something that doesn’t cost much, is reliable and doesn’t look clunky.
Motor Controller Heatsink: I want to get a really big and effective (and cheap) heatsink for the controller (because apparently they get really hot). My idea is so mount this through the (to be built) bulkhead between the motor compartment and the cockpit locker. This way the heat gets put into the cockpit locker while the controller is away from it in the motor compartment.
Dinghy: Jane has nearly finished the cover for the dinghy. I need to get and fit removable launching wheels to get it over the mixture of rocks and shingle where we will launch it.
Solar Panel mounts: I should be able to make everything I need to mount the solar panels to to the boat both on the wheelhouse roof and at the guardrails.
Propeller: We have the propeller at home and it still needs a lot of cleaning. One day money permitting we will replace it with a Bruntons Autoprop Ecostar, until then cleaning it is.
Emergency Steering: The two part emergency tiller (if the wheel steering breaks) has probably been in storage under the after cabin bunk for the whole life of the boat. There has been a little corrosion which means the parts no longer fit together. So we will fix this.
Consumer Unit mount: We now have a consumer unit for the mains power. We have a place for it which will allow us to access the trip switches. It is quite large as we have one switch for each of the 13 sockets we will have around the boat, we are running a separate wire to each rather than a ring main. However, it will need to be lowered for full access so I’m making a wooden frame for it to slide up and down in.
Navigation and control systems: I have plenty of fun planned getting Raspberry Pi computers sorted to run the chart plotter and other navigation software. I want them to interface with all our instruments, with the battery management systems, the solar charge controllers etc. We will have an indoor and an outdoor Pi so we can see everything when steering or when below. The indoor one will also be our entertainment centre and office computer.
Just eating a black eyed bean curry from our multi cooker. Then heading home.
The cockpit floor is fitted, the main drain hoses are test fitted. We just need some hose adapters 32mm to 50mm and then we can connect the forward drains.
With very straight 50mm drains the cockpit should drain superfast, we are slightly concerned that small children might get sucked out with the torrent 😉 So we will add a small step halfway up back of the cockpit. That will also help our knees a lot.
We also had a big sort out of the forecabin which had become a messy dumping area for tools and bits. That allowed us to check our anchoring plans (and happy they will work). So we removed the very old, rusty, anchor windlass and a couple of other bits.
We also did some measuring for our aft cabin plans and again happy that they will be an improvement.
So, despite all the named storms, and the impact of COVID-19, we have had a good holiday and made a lot of progress towards being ready to launch next spring.