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


  • 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 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 🙂

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.


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.

Final Dyneema Chainplate design

This is it. The final (at least the latest) design of our Dyneema, synthetic chainplate.

A short recap on the background.

  • This is a Rival 38 Centre Cockpit Ketch (possibly the only one)
  • Currently we have the original Superstron (Bronze) chainplates
  • The chainplates are essentially an eyebolt with a flange that is bolted through the deck and the hull shelf that the deck rests on. Below the deck there is a small backing plate and two nuts. The backing plate is made up of two strips of stainless steel.
  • The chainplate for the main mast cap shrouds is tied into a bulkhead. A stainless strip has been bolted to the bulkhead and the top bent over to right angles (flush with the underside of the hull shelf), this has a hole which the chainplate comes through.
  • We have cracking in the deck around one of the mizzen chainplates (the backing plate is made of 2 sheets of stainless steel and they have slipped so no longer aligned and therefore have bent and not spread the load correctly)
  • Several Rivals have had chainplates fail. This has happened to both original Superstron and replacement stainless steel chainplates. Other Stainless Steel versions have been inspected and found to have corrosion where the thread meets the flange at the top of the deck.
  • Other Rivals have had some deck cracking around chainplates. Some have installed larger backing plates.

We have some constraints (and remember we need chainplates of 4 sizes for 12 shrouds, 2 main mast backstays and 2 mizzen running backstays so 16 in total)

  • For a wide variety of reasons we want to switch to Dyneema Rigging
  • Replacing the Chainplates with new and longer versions (and ideally slightly increased diameter) so that they can be used with thicker, larger backing plates would cost several thousand pounds.
  • New metal chainplates will need a means to connect to a tensioning lashing for the shrouds. Colligo make suitable products and we would also need toggles to ensure alignment. This would cost several thousand pounds.

So we have decided to make our own.

We have been through a number of designs. All of them look similar above deck. A low friction ring is held in one of more dyneema loops that disappear into the deck. The shroud or stay will end with a low friction ring and a lashing will be used to join these and tension the shroud/stay.

Below decks our ideas have varied. The key difference for this design is that we have decided not to create any extra connection between the hull and deck. Whilst modern design would want to see a solid tie between the chainplate at the deck and the hull (preferably extending a long way down the hull) we reason that Rivals were not built that way and none of the failures that we have heard of include separating the deck from the hull. Amongst other factors to create such a link would require the removal of the inner plywood lining that is fitted to the inside of the stringers approx 3cm from the hull.

Here then is our design for our chainplates. Note that for the main mast Cap Shrouds we will still create a “knee” to tie the chainplate to the bulkhead (not the hull) – this is not illustrated.

Vida Chainplate

We welcome your thoughts.

Lessons after a 6 month boat abandonment

So about to go to bed for the second night aboard after a 6 month gap through a Welsh winter. We hadn’t expected such a long gap. Back in October we were expecting Wales to restrict entry from Manchester but we hadn’t expected the double restriction of not being able to enter Wales and not being able to stay away from home to last until mid April.

The only problems we found were:

  • Our duvet and pillows went mouldy. We wouldn’t have left them all winter, we certainly wouldn’t normally leave them with no heating in the boat (not sure when our electricity ran out but until it did we had the heating set to come on at 5 degrees C)
  • One of the only deck fittings on the main saloon roof has leaked (a u-bolt for a harness to clip to). It isn’t much but we will remove it and check for damage to the balsa core.

The great thing we found:

Both our composting toilets were in perfect shape to continue to use them right away. We had emptied the urine bottles but not the compost areas. There was no smell, no mess. They were absolutely ready to use straight away. If you had left a chemical toilet partially full then it would have been disgusting, as would the holding tank of a typical boat toilet. Any toilet with water it could have had problems with freezing and the smell of the stagnant water would have been unpleasant. I don’t think there is any other form of toilet that you could unexpectedly leave for 6 months and find no problems at all (and of course most boat toilets can’t be used while the boat is ashore anyway)


Since arriving we have spent more time working on non boat related work than anything else. So the only real progress has been to check some of our plans against reality.

Also it has been pretty cold here both days. Tonight it is due to drop to 1 degree C, our two infrared electric panel heaters can’t maintain a comfortable temperature in the cabin. We are ok in bed with a replacement duvet and hot water bottles but running out of fleeces to where while out of bed. This has been made worse because earlier this evening our electric fan heater blew up and tripped the electrics. With that we could keep a comfortable temperature, since then it has been dropping a little each hour.

Anyway we have:

  • checked reconnecting the steering to the rudder and in the process checked whether a Cape Horn Wind vane self steering could be fitted (we think it can)
  • reviewed our plans to remodel the aft cabin (better double bed with easier access, comfy seat, wider door to heads compartment, better support for the mizzen mast)
  • come up with a “final” design for our dyneema chainplates
  • reviewed and improved our design for a solar arch, getting very excited by how that is looking now.
  • rethought our chart table area (we are going to follow the recommendation from Attainable Adventure Cruising and do chart work in the cockpit, so we are removing our chart table to make an excellent spot for a Refleks Diesel heater (looking at a 62MSK which heats directly, plus radiators and has a stove top). Apart from that we will have extra storage.
  • rechecked our measurements for the dinghy on the foredeck and that it won’t cause problems for the windlass and inner forestay.
  • taken lots more photos so that we won’t have to rely on memory so much in the future 🙂

I’ve a 4 hour zoom meeting tomorrow morning (Saturday) then home in the afternoon, so not much more to do here except enjoy the views and the relief at being able to be back here.

A nice place to do the washing up

Adapting plans and being flexible

One of the many lessons to learn from the horrors of the Covid-19 pandemic is that event the best laid plans might have to change, sometimes at short notice. That should be obvious for cruising sailors who have always had to adapt their plans according to the weather. However, much of the time our behaviour shows a remarkable resistance to changing our ideas and our plans.

Right back to the process of choosing Vida we have been adapting and re-adapting our plans. For decades we have dreamed of one day building our own Catamaran. Then suddenly, triggered by a pension reminder, we started thinking differently about our longer term future, the idea of starting to prepare to live on a boat for retirement came. Then the sudden shift from catamarans because we couldn’t afford the time to build and realised there was a wide choice of older monohulls available at orders of magnitude lower prices. Then we saw Vida, almost by accident as she was larger and more expensive than we had been looking at, yet when we saw her we realised exactly what we needed.

Within the refit we have already adapted our plans many times, some examples are:

  • Deciding that we would switch to an electric motor before launching as fixing the fuel system to be safe and reliable was going to be such a big and expensive job.
  • Deciding to switch to synthetic rigging before spending money on the existing rigging
  • Discovering the cracks around one chainplate and the problems that so many others have with chainplates and so switching to creating our own synthetic ones (and now on another redesign of them)
  • Adjusting our aim of zero fossil fuels to be looking at a Refleks Diesel heater (the influence of Brexit on preventing wintering in warmer parts of the EU being a key factor)
  • Now looking at a Cape Horn Vane self-steering instead of Hydrovane – in part due to reduced constraints on Solar panel positioning.
  • Planning to move from 12 volt house battery bank to 48 volt.

As we prepare to get back to work I am sure there are going to be more changes to come. Technology keeps changing, the impact of the Climate Emergency on cruising is going to grow and grow, our understanding of issues such as microplastics is changing.

Part of our goal here is to be open about the need to reflect and think through our decisions, especially the impact they have on others. Unfortunately, we see a common tendency to focus selfishly on what is most comfortable for ourselves, that has a huge impact on others. We see that in a frequent unwillingness to “compromise” on luxury or “convenience” despite the impact on others. We also see it when people take advantage of loopholes in rules designed to limit the pandemic – particularly around travel and wanting to claim special treatment for ourselves.

We continue to believe that working through plans and being eager to make changes so that they are more sustainable is worthwhile, satisfying and better for us all. We are not about punishing ourselves or being ascetics but we are about understanding our impact and working against privilege, inequality and injustice.

So what are we going to find after not being able to visit Vida for 6 months? What changes are still to come? Is there any chance that I will get sensible about stretching to become a little more flexible physically to keep up with the flexibility of our plans?

March breaks through 1,000 views

Very happy to see that March has been the first time that we have had more than 1,000 views in one month. That was over 420 visitors. Plus we now have 130 followers spread out between email, WordPress and social media. Good to see some consistent growth.

So if you are following us then welcome! If you are new here then also welcome

We are on a journey that hopefully will return to more practical progress in a couple of weeks when lockdown restrictions are due to relax. It will be good to get out of my head a bit.

Next week we hope to be setting our son up to get the plastic shredding started. We have a new stainless steel shredder and a second hand electric motor which he is going to connect and sort out. The injection moulding machine and moulds is all on order. We will be taking our shed to re-purpose as a workshop. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have some recycled plastic products to sell.

Next generation Dyneema Chainplates

This is a rewrite/reorganisation of this post (no diagrams yet) to, hopefully, make it clearer.

I think this is our 3rd generation of Dyneema Chainplate design. We think it is a significant improvement on our previous plans, yet realistically it might demonstrate some “Lockdown overthinking” so we are not ruling out variations on our original Synthetic chainplate idea in: Chainplates. We are going for a radical dyneema option.

All these designs and the process is for us to work out what we are going to do on our boat. We are happy to share to give you ideas for your own boat, but you need to check your plans with appropriate professionals as we can take no responsibility for whether they will work for you.

Although our previous design was significantly stronger than what our Rival 38 has had for the last 43 years, we have come up with big improvements (with a lot of conversations, especially with Simon T who has a Rival 32). Specifically these are:

  • More flexibility in deck position so they can be closer to the original chainplate position
  • More flexibility in the positioning on the outside of the hull to avoid rubbing strakes, coving strips etc
  • Simpler to build
  • Ability to have tie connections down into the hull (as Rivals should really have had)
  • Reduced possibility of chainplate lashing line chafe.
  • Reduced friction when tensioning the rig, making it simpler to tune

The previous design already met these requirements, but they are worth repeating:

  • A chainplate design ideally suited to synthetic shrouds, that eliminates the need for deadeyes and toggles to reduce the number of potential points of failure.
  • A chainplate that is much stronger than the original Rival implementation. See Deck repair question and note that Cherry Ripe had one chainplate fail on a recent transatlantic trip (their YouTube videos haven’t caught up with that point yet).
  • A chainplate that cannot leak, fully sealed with epoxy from the inside of the boat
  • A chainplate that could be fully repaired with parts that can be carried on board
  • A chainplate with minimal chance of hidden problems causing a sudden failure

We really need to define our own terminology so

  • Chainplate structure: the permanently bonded structure between the hull and deck that the Chainplate Lashing will thread
  • Chainplate Low Friction Ring: A standard Low Friction Ring that is the point to which the shroud is attached by a tensioning system.
  • Chainplate lashing: a light (we are going to use 4mm) dyneema line used to hold the Chainplate Low Friction Ring by being routed through the Chainplate structure. At a minimum the strength of the total lashing needs to exceed the strength of the original stainless steel shroud.
  • Tensioning system: we will be using a simple, thin dyneema line to lash the bottom of the shroud to the Chainplate Low Friction Ring. It will loop around multiple times to give a mechanical advantage and the end will be attached to more mechanical advantage (can be done with a winch or other means) to get enough tension into the shroud.
  • Knee: a shaped piece of material (we are going to use 10mm G10 or FR4) that ties the underside of the deck down the side of the hull. It helps stop the tension of the shroud on the chainplate structure breaking or distorting the boat shape.


The greatest inspiration for me was this video from Free Range Sailing “Our sailboat REBUILD begins ⛵💪 – Episode 157

They have an unusual situation for their backstays, when drilling the holes for the lashing they don’t go into the interior of the boat. A key design goal was to find a way to have a similar lashing for the low friction ring in places where it isn’t possible for a hole to go from the desk to the outside of the hull without going into interior. Also I didn’t want to have to add GRP matting to the outside of the hull. Finally, I was unhappy with the lashing as it relied on knots which is a problem with slippery dyneema.

Key Design elements

First we have a permanent structure to be built

For each shroud two plastic pipes will go through the deck (approx 40mm gap between them – scale as appropriate). On a Rival they can be in approximately the same place as the existing chainplate. They should line up with the shroud (following both the fore/aft and athwartships angles). Below decks they will curve to exit through holes in the side of the hull (still the same distance apart and level with each other). The pipes end approx 50mm above the deck.

A “backing” plate on top of the deck will provide reinforcement. It will make it easier to keep water out of the holes in the deck.

A “backing” plate on the outside of the hull will spread the loads and can be shaped to allow a very smooth curve for the chainplate lashing between the two pipes.

Inside the boat a knee will be fitted between the pipes. It will tie the deck to the hull and will extend down far enough to spread the loads over a large area of the hull.

Inside the boat the pipes will be encased in thickened epoxy. The will prevent any water intrusion. It will also create a single solid structure of deck, hull, pipes and knee to ensure loads are widely and evenly spread.

Second we have the connection for the shroud tensioning system

The permanent structure allows a lashing to attach a low friction ring above the deck. The shroud can be directly tensioned to the low friction ring using a lashing. As the low friction ring is lashed directly to the chainplate structure we eliminate a deadeye (with two thimbles) and a toggle – so removing several of single points of failure.

The chainplate lashing line starts at the low friction ring. Then it loops several times going through one pipe, across the outside of the hull, back through the other pipe and around the low friction ring. When there are enough turns for the maximum load the lashing terminates at the low friction ring.

Rather than use knots to tie the lashing at each end (which lose a lot of strength), terminate each end with an eye splice. These both loop over the low friction ring. Eye splices retain approximately 80% of the line strength. As all the loops of the lashing go over the “rim” of the low fiction ring the shroud tensioning lashing is held captive by the chainplate lashing. Therefore if the low friction ring breaks the shroud is still held captive. We can use eye splices rather than lashing knots as there is considerable flexibility as to how high the low friction ring ends up above the deck.

Third we have chafe and UV protection

The pipes extend approx 50 above the deck, their ends should be slightly flared. As they are slightly flexible they will automatically align (in a gentle curve) with the tensioned lashing so that chafe is minimised. The lashing can be easily inspected for chafe as it enters the pipes.

Extending the pipes above the deck also prevents dirt, particularly gravel, being washed into the pipe as this could quickly cut through the lashing.

The up-stand of the pipes allows a fabric sleeve to be secured at the deck so that everything from the shroud to the deck can be protected from dirt, chafe and UV. If the sleeve is a basic rectangle, with Velcro along it’s length, it can be easily removed to inspect both lashings and the low friction rings.

On the outside of the hull the backing plate can be filed and sanded to provide a smooth rounded route for the lashing to go between the two pipes.

Potential Upgrades

Rather than rounding/smoothing the backing plate on the outside of the hull a plastic pad could be added to provide a lower friction, smoother route for the lashing.

A pop-on plastic cover for the hull backing plate would protect the lashing as it goes between the holes. This would protect it from being damaged by docks, dinghies and the sun. It could be removed to inspect the lashing.

Instead of a single low friction ring for the chainplate lashing it would be possible to use 2. One for each pipe. The two rings would not be directly connected together above the deck but only by the lashing going down through the pipes. The advantages are a) alignment with pipes would be slightly improved as the lines from the pipes only come together at the bottom of the shroud rather than at the chainplate low friction ring. b) two rings so each has half the load c) each ring will only have half the number of turns of the shroud tensioning lashing, so a little less binding and friction.

Rather than a single chainplate lashing line, for each shroud, it would be possible to use several, each would act in parallel. The first eye splice on the low friction ring, through one pipe and back through the other before the other eye splice goes onto the low friction ring. Each “turn” of the lashing would be a separate line. If one line chafes through, it will be very visible but the shroud won’t suddenly become slack. This method would require very consistent splicing so that the lines are very equal in length (although even the small amount of elasticity and creep in dyneema will tend to equalise small differences over time).


All the key potential chafe points for the lashing are easy to inspect as it is highly unlikely that the lashing will chafe first in the hidden but smooth run inside the plastic pipe. Instead chafe will come first a) where it exits the hull, b) where it exits the pipes at the deck, c) where it loops round the low friction ring, or d) where something rubs against it.

Replacing either the chainplate lashing or the shroud tensioning lashing should be straightforward, even potentially possible at sea on the appropriate tack.

The most difficult task will be replacing a pipe when it wears through (although plastics such as hdpe should be very wear resistant). There are a few options

  • start with an oversized pipe so that a smaller pipe could be inserted through it later as a replacement (or have an fixed outer pipe and a floating inner pipe from the beginning)
  • coat the pipes in a mould release agent during construction so that they can be removed (some ingenuity may be required to ensure that they don’t move during use)
  • if the pipe fails then use a dremel with a flexible attachment to sand the route through the thickened epoxy so a pipe isn’t needed (a short length of pipe could be inserted at the top to provide the gravel protection).

Our construction details

We are hoping to use HDPE pipes, they should be low friction and hard wearing. However, the smallest I have found them is a 20mm external diameter. Maybe inserting a smaller sacrificial tube inside them would be a good solution or a different type of plastic?

I’ll use a heat gun to flare the top of the pipe to make sure the lashing doesn’t get damaged by the edge.

We will use the same dyneema line for both the shroud tensioning and the chainplate lashing to reduce the number of items we need to buy and carry.

Our main mast cap shrouds are the only ones with a chainplate that has a connection to a bulkhead. So some detailed thought will be needed (one pipe each side of the bulkhead?)

Our chainplates are in the deck and are close to the bulwark so the internal intrusion will be small. This solution may not be the right one if you have very inboard chainplates. In that case look at my original “padeye” design.

I’m going to use 10mm G10 for external chainplates and 10mm FR4 for the knees (I want first resistance inside the boat).

All holes in the deck and hull should be sealed with thickened epoxy (drill oversize hole, fill with thickened epoxy, when cured drill correct hole through the epoxy).

When drilling the final holes angle the drill to reduce the curvature of the pipes.

Our holes and backing plate in the hull will be a bit lower so that they are below the rubbing strake. You might want to miss things like cove lines.

Our cap shrouds have a piece of stainless steel bolted to the bulkhead that has a bent over top that sits under the backing plate. It has a hole fitted over the chainplate bolt and so when the nut is on the chainplate bolt is connected to the bulkhead. This will be replaced (on all our chainplates) by the FR4 knee. The top edge of this shaped piece of sheet material will be fitted to the underside of the deck and the long edge will fit vertically down the inside of the hull. In our case it will go down far enough to “hook” over the first horizontal stringer. The inner edge of the knee doesn’t have to be a straight line but can be cut away as a nice organic curve. The best place for the knee is between the two pipes. It should be glued in with thickened epoxy with good fillets along all the edges that touch the boat.

It is going to be tricky to fill around the pipes and knee with thickened epoxy so that there are no air pockets. My current plan is to create an enclosed space that I can fill (using thin plywood held in place and “sealed” with epoxy fillets). So the plywood is creating a kind of mould covering the pipes and part of the knee. Before I fit the deck backing plate, I will drill some extra holes in the deck and inject into them slightly runny thickened epoxy, until it is full to deck level. Once they are filled these holes will be covered by the backing plate. I can remove the plywood to confirm that the space has been properly filled.

The strands of the chainplate lashing are going to be under a lot of tension between the two holes on the outside of the hull. So it is vital that the route out of one hole and into the other is very rounded and very smooth. That transition from pipe to backing plate is going to be the key load point of the lashing, so it is vital that it does not chafe through here. We are going to carve a solid plate of hdpe (we will make ours as part of our plastic recycling work) that will sit on the G10 plate and be a very low friction, smooth, curved surface for the line. We will also fit a removable hdpe cover plate to protect the chainplate lashing from being damaged by docks or anything else.

Fitting the lashing

When you are ready to lash the Chainplate Low Friction Ring into place you have a choice. You can use a single ring per chainplate structure. Or for slightly higher cost you can use two. Having two improves the alignment of the chainplate lashing slightly and makes tensioning a little easier. If you use one then you need to size it so that the outer sheave can fit 3 turns of the lashing line rather than 2 (the number of turns depends on your calculation of loads and the line you are using – I’m planning to have 6 of 4mm, 3 per pipe, which is quite a lot stronger than my shroud).

Whether you use one ring or two your chainplate lashing needs a eye splice at each end designed to loop over the exterior of the low friction ring.

If you are using One Low Friction Ring then:

With the low friction ring above the pipes fit the eye splice from one end of the lashing. The other end goes down one pipe to outside the hull. Then in the other hull hole and back to the deck. Now loop it over the low friction ring and go down the first pipe again. From the hull outside return as before. Repeat for another loop through the chainplate structure. At this point the low friction ring should have one eye splice and two loops. Each pipe will have 3 lines through it. The outside of the hull will have 3 lines between the holes. Now slip the eye splice from the loose end onto the low friction ring (4 lines in total on the top of the low friction ring). While holding up the low friction ring up, tidy all the lines so that they don’t cross over outside the hull and as little as possible in the pipes. You can now use the tensioning system to connect the chainplate low friction ring to the shroud.

If you are using Two Low Friction Rings then:

With the first low friction ring above the pipes fit the eye splice from one end of the lashing. The other end goes down one pipe to outside the hull. Then in the other hull hole and back to the deck. Now loop it over the second low friction ring and return down the same pipe again. From the hull outside return up the first pipe and over the first low friction ring. Back down the first pipe, outside the hull and up the second pipe. Now slip the eye splice from the loose end onto the second low friction ring. While holding up the low friction rings up, tidy all the lines so that they don’t cross over outside the hull and as little as possible in the pipes. Each low friction ring should have 1 eye splice and one loop of lashing line. Each pipe should have 3 lines. Each low friction ring should have 3 lines all going into the same pipe. The outside of the hull should have 3 lines. To tension the shroud the tensioning lashing should start from one of the chainplate low friction rings, go up to the shroud and down to the other chainplate low friction ring. Continue to add more turns, alternating between the two chainplate low friction rings.

Tensioning the Shroud.

There are videos from Rigging Doctor, Tula’s Endless Summer and Sailing Zingaro showing how to tension using a lashing. Although, of course, we have our own ideas which we hope to test before too long.


We believe this design will create

  • a chainplate structure that you can easily build yourself.
  • something that you can visually inspect for wear and damage.
  • something with no metal parts that need to be fabricated, that can corrode or fail due to fatigue.
  • where you can carry all the parts to replace everything that works with the chainplate structure (lashing line and low friction rings, shroud tensioning line, shroud) even at sea.
  • a significant weight saving
  • a significant increase in strength on boats like Rivals where the chainplates are not very well connected to the hull
  • huge cost savings if your chainplates or turnbuckles need replacing
  • a very simple, strong, neat, light way of connecting dyneema shrouds to an older boat

DIY Washing Machine for Sailing

There are some things that (nearly) all Sailing Channels on YouTube have in common. One is the significant costs in time, money and hassle of maintaining Diesel Engines. Another is the pain of laundry, that is one I want to look at again.

I’m going to group the approaches to laundry into three categories: Electric Washing Machine; Laundromat; Handwashing.

All these have problems.

Electric Washing machines:

  • Purchase cost
  • High power requirements (almost certainly going to require a generator)
  • High water requirements (almost certainly going t require a watermaker)
  • Large space required
  • Not designed for a marine environment so don’t last very well
  • Potential to fit a filter to catch microplastics


Well summed up in this video from Ryan and Sophie:

  • Quite expensive
  • Very time-consuming
  • Requires access to large enough town (in much of Europe now only common in marinas)
  • Unlikely to have filters to catch microplastics


  • Available everywhere (but not attractive in a cold/wet climates)
  • Drying laundry is a real challenge anywhere apart from the tropics
  • Unlikely to have anyway to filter out microplastics

Our approach

In the past we have considered a WonderWash, but at the moment getting one in the UK seems almost impossible (most sellers specifically not exporting to the UK, others might but shipping would double the cost).

There are a number of washing machines being marketed at campers, however, they look very flimsy.

So we plan to build our own, very simple and very robust washing machine. We will start with a watertight plastic key such as this from Solent Plastics

If we make a frame so that it can be rotated with a handle then it is just a matter of putting in the washing, some water and some form of reef safe detergent, then rotating it. We would need a keg large enough for the largest thing we need to wash (our duvet cover). We can use it to store our dirty clothes when we are not doing the washing. When clothes have been washed, all we need is a large funnel into a microplastic filter and we can pour the water away without dumping microplastics directly into the sea.

A side benefit is that we can easily use the same system to wash plastics before shredding them as part of our plastic recycling.

Drying. We think we need the combination of 3 things to be able to dry washing whatever the climate.

Spin dryer: However, you end up getting laundry to fully dry it is much faster if you first use a spin dryer. We haven’t seen a really effective human powered spin dryer. So we think a mains electric spin dryer is the best option. There are not very large and they spin out most of the water (which is easy to collect to pour through the microplastic filter).

Obviously in a suitable climate the simplest option is to hang laundry outside dry. That is not possible all year round in the UK and many places. So to allow drying inside we plan the combination of heating and dehumidifying.

We will have a dehumidifier in the motor room. We wrote about this in Sustaining Electrics and are still planning for something like an Ecor Pro Dryboat 12. Running this should help ensure that laundry dries quickly and without causing damp throughout the boat.

When we need heating it will be via a Refleks diesel heater that will not just provide direct heat but also distribute hot water through radiators. This is a dry heat which is important, we don’t want to introduce more damp into the air. We will have a radiator in our forward head with the shower drip tray and plenty of hanging space for our washing so that it can dry reasonably quickly. The water from the shower (like all our grey water) will go through a microplastic filter before leaving the boat. Obviously having a shower won’t be possible while laundry is drying and access to the forecabin will be inconvenient. However, while there are just the two of us we can use the en-suite heads in the aft cabin and so it won’t be a problem.


We think the combination of a diy manual washing “machine”, a mains electric spin dryer, a dehumidifier and radiator heating will

  • be cheap to buy, install and maintain.
  • be good for collecting microplastic
  • be a good combination of low hassle and low cost laundry
  • take little space and not use much electricity or water
  • provide a good basis for washing plastic for recycling
  • work in a wide variety of climates and weathers
  • allow us to be off-grid for long periods of time

Making Cruising plans

Last night we decided to make some plans for where we want to cruise when we start living aboard after retirement in a few years time, after all that was the goal right from the beginning of this journey with Vida and Sustainable Sailing.

I will be writing those dreams up, but we realised that they will need a bit of an introduction. Otherwise they will look like a whole lot of crazy non-stop random passages.

Our situation and our plans are very different from pretty much all the YouTube channels we watch, which is ironic given how much we enjoy watching them 🙂

The move to living aboard

One of the key differences for us, is that it will be a very abrupt change from preparation to off we go. Unlike most jobs, I will know, at least a year in advance, almost to the day when I will retire. I already know that it will be in a July and that after I finish work and have the farewell we will need to moved out of the house within a month and onto the boat. This will be in an absolute minimum of 2 1/2 years from now but could be quite a years longer than that

So it will be a dramatic and rapid change, we and the boat need to be ready for it. If we are not ready it will immediately start costing us retirement money, eg if we have to pay for removal fees or storage if we haven’t already downsized to what we will have on the boat.

Once, we have launched Vida her normal home, until we retire, will be a swinging mooring in the Menai Strait. Mostly convenient (and cheap) for the next few years. But not so good for living aboard as it leaves you very car dependant (the road between Beaumaris and Menai Bridge is busy narrow and not very cycle friendly) and we will be getting rid of the car ASAP. Whilst the mooring is convenient when we are going for odd nights or to start holidays from it isn’t somewhere we will want to be based at when living aboard.

Also the mooring is not somewhere we would want to spend our first winter living on the boat. It isn’t just the lack of convenience for shore (and shipping) access, it is also too exposed and the wind/waves really funnel through the Menai Straits. We could easily end up spending days at a time when it will be too rough to or from the shore in the dinghy.

The intention behind all the preparations, getting the refit finished and Vida properly ready is that we also don’t want to move aboard for retirement and then soon after bring her out of the water for the winter. So after a settling in period we will be sailing off to somewhere more suitable for the winter.

So, let’s imagine that by the September we are settled aboard and ready to sell the mooring and head off.

Cruising Speed

As we started making our plans, building on what we started thinking about cruising in Scandinavia, it was very obvious that we are looking at very different pace to cruising life to most YouTube Channels. So the plans will seem crazy if you are used to watching them. But then there are a whole bunch of things we won’t be doing:

  • We won’t need to spend 30 hours a week editing videos
  • We don’t want to go skiing each day
  • We don’t want to climb every mountain on every Caribbean island
  • We don’t want to fill everyone’s freezer by spear fishing everyday
  • We won’t have a baby to care for
  • No pets that will need frequent access to land (well none that don’t need frequent access either)
  • While we will be doing repairs and maintenance (after a refit designed to minimise both) but we won’t be trying to refit the boat as we sail
  • We won’t be spending much time in marinas to go exploring the land (in part to keep our costs down, but also because we want to see more places by boat)

Plus, of course, we will be at a different stage in our lives with different goals. Two critical impacts from that are a sense of urgency. We will be starting at around 60 years old and we want to see lots of the world while we can. So we don’t want to “Sail around the world as slowly as possible” (Sailing Magic carpet) but we want to begin by rapidly ramping up our experience on this boat, longer passage making and so on. Sitting in a marina or doing day sails with lots of time at anchor isn’t what we want to be focused on. Nor does sitting in a marina fit with our budget.

So we know we will be looking at our first winter being one where we can get lots of sailing practice in, to build our skills, gain confidence in poor conditions and check that we are comfortable with passage sailing for multiple days. AFter that, our plans might change a lot and we are quite ok with that. So when we start sharing plans remember that they are more dreams than anything else and we would be shocked and stunned if we kept to them 🙂