Sabbatical day 1: transport

Today I have started a three month sabbatical (a generous gift from the Methodist Church that I work for, they come every seven years).

The plan is for me to spend most of the time working on Vida with Jane joining me when she isn’t working.

If possible we would like to get Vida launched by the end of the sabbatical. That will only be possible because there will be a great deal that doesn’t get done this year (or even next year).

The first task has been to get me to Beaumaris with all the things that are too heavy for Jane to load into the car. Hence, we loaded up our little, electric Nissan Leaf to the brim.

On the roof rack we had both the main and mizzen booms plus loads of plywood.

Inside we had a solar panel, big Victron Inverter, my bike, loads of tools, clothes and food.

The roof rack says 50mph maximum, so the 100 mile journey is quite slow. However, it is very good for the range. We barely needed to top up (although we did and as the Ecotricity charge point had lost its Internet connection it was free so we filled up).

Getting everything from the car, then onto the boat, then into the boat has been pretty tiring. So we had a nice veg and cannaloni bean curry, now relaxing with YouTube.

Lots of updates

Been a bit slow updating the blog, we have several new videos and this evening I have bought a new-to-us mainsail (from a Westerly Fulmar). We will probably have to add a very small extra reef point as the default setting point because it is very slightly too large but for £200 it will be a lot better than what we have. That significantly reduces the amount of work to do on sails (just new soft webbing hanks on the foresails).

We are not at the boat this weekend as we both have Covid and it has laid us up all week.

Anyway on with the videos, quite dramatic changes:

After some discussions on the Rival FaceBook group and further reflection I think some compromises were forced on Peter Brett when drawing the centre cockpit version of the 38. So there wasn’t enough space for a full length v-berth, a watertight bulkhead and a route for the chain that wasn’t through the middle of the berth. They chose a v-berth for kids, a neatly hidden chain but no watertight bulkhead (which the 41 has, not sure about the other models).

Our priorities are different. We want low risk (hence watertight compartments), better anchoring (more and heavier chain below deck, electric windlass, bigger anchor that self stows better – we have a whole load of videos about the new bow roller), maximised sailing performance (hence wanting to store the chain as far aft as possible for better weight distribution). So we are not at all worried that occasional guests will clamber/crawl into either the port side generously sized adult berth or the starboard child sized berth.

We won’t finish this cabin apart from the bulkheads and shoot for the chain until next year but it will be enough for us to fit the windlass and so be able to anchor.

We would really appreciate it if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, it is free. Plus Like and share the videos as it really helps us grow the channel. Especially we welcome your comments on them.

Only 1 month to go and I’ll have 3 months working almost full-time on the boat as I have a work Sabbatical. So there should be lots of progress 🙂

Timber preparation

I’ve got the extra galley worktop and the extra galley bulkhead cut from a full sheet of 18mm ply. Hopefully small enough to fit in the car.

Also started sanding the companion way steps and preparing the French cleats.

These are pretty much the only solid timber on board. So hoping to keep these fairly natural colour. Will use penetrating epoxy with a stain and then varnish. Should give good protection for this very high wear part. All other timber is going to be painted apart from small trim.

External Dyneema Chainplates update

Our latest video has been getting some really helpful comments on YouTube as well as directly. It has also helped us to reach a new milestone 🙂

It definitely seems worth exploring more. Particularly to consider some of practicalities that people have raised including:

  • Is the sheer strength of the Stainless Steel bolts sufficient? Potentially, the load on the bolt could be reduced by attaching the plates for the dyneema eyes with epoxy. Or they could be replaced by carbon fibre tubes epoxied into place.
  • Is dirt going to get in the dyneema and damage it? Could the solid shield protecting from chafe also stop water washing dirt in? Would a soft sleeve such as we plan for our chainplate loops help?
  • Will the water flow damage the Dyneema? Much the same issue as with dirt above.
  • Might there be resonance issues with the lashing (apparently might be more of a problem with more loops of thinner lashing).
  • Will the wider stance affect sheeting angles? Depends very much on the rig. It might allow a cutter rig to be sheeted inside the shrouds.
  • Should we use a standard thimble or low friction ring, potentially with a solid infill to avoid a point load from the bolt? We were trying to avoid metal in the water and keep the cost down but this might well be a good solution.
  • More thinking about whether to have a separate cover to keep the dyneema on and to provide chafe protection, possibly so that the cover can be removed without affecting the chafe protection for inspection or replacement.

We are planning a similar design for attaching a Jordan Series Drogue (JSD), potentially better than our previous idea.

Anyway, thank for the support on YouTube, it is encouraging and YouTube responds by sharing the videos more.

First boat stay in 2022

We arrived yesterday evening and are here for a couple of nights. It is very cold! Snow in Manchester before we came, snow visible on the Snowdonia range. So, too cold to do any epoxy work. Fortunately, the two panel heaters and two fan heaters can keep the cabin nice and warm.

Instead of working on the starboard backing plates for our main mast dyneema chainplates , we have recorded video footage describing our latest idea for external dyneema chainplates. Could be a great option for lots of older boats who are switching to dyneema rigging and want to avoid expensive fittings or who are concerned about their metal chainplates.

We also recorded progress on redesigning the bilge under our saloon for battery storage, water tank and for the first time some thinking about lightening protection. That involved taking the main companionway steps down, wasn’t as bad as I feared. We now have our batteries stored much better in approximately the right place.

We have also done some more detailed planning for the galley stowage and space for the fridge.

The weather is expected to be wet, windy and cold in the morning so we have some jobs planning work on everything in the motor room.

Coming up next week will be big news about our transport for getting to and from the boatyard.

All very exhausting 🙂 so an early night is next!

The end of our saloon or end of half term or both?

We ended with a day of better weather and real progress.

We were able to test the bow roller with the anchor despite not having been able to do any outside epoxy work all week.

Our 30kg Spade anchor fitted nicely.

And the remodelling of the saloon went through a further destructive stage.

In the process we have made progress towards a new layout with slightly reduced seating in return for a better guest double bed; a much larger galley, more comfortable seating and a better table position when there are only two of us; more storage space and considerably more structural strength.

At least that is what we are hoping to create. Stay tuned to see if we can achieve all this!

Mixed bag progress

Today was definitely another no outside jobs day. So we went to Aldi in the morning and got soaked as we came out.

In the afternoon we worked on different things.

Dyneema Chainplates

Jane started learning Dyneema splicing and after a practice, she produced our first real Mizzen chainplate:

This works in this way. The knot stays below the backing plate. The eye (with the low friction ring removed) goes up through a hole in the backing plate and the deck above it, to emerge above the deck. The hole is, of course, lined with epoxy and will have been sanded and rounded off so it is very smooth. The low friction ring is then put back into the loop. This is now your chainplate. Our shrouds will end with another low friction ring and they will be attached to the chainplate with a dyneema lashing. This lashing will be used to tension the shroud (and take out any creep).

Once the chainplate is fitted we have two issues to address. One is protecting the Dyneema from damage and the second is to stop water running into the hole and wicking down the dyneema so that it drips into the cabin.

First we need to stop the dyneema chainplate from being damaged. There are three main ways damage is likely:

  • dirt washing into the hole in the deck and cutting into the Dyneema.
  • ropes rubbing against the Dyneema where it is visible above the deck and causing chafe.
  • Sunlight causing UV damage which weakens the dyneema.

We have a two part solution to protect against all these forms of damage.

On the deck we fix a “mushroom” around the hole, with the hole extending through the middle of the mushroom. This stops water running down the deck going into the hole. Then we have a Sunbrella fabric sleeve that fits around the chainplate and lashing. At the bottom this is drawn tight around the base of the mushroom, at the top it is a close fit around the shroud above the lashing. The fabric stops larger waves getting into the hole and reduces the amount of water that will wick all the way down. It also protects the lashing and chainplate from UV and chafe.

Below deck we create a simple watertight “box” around the knot. This catches any water that wicks all the way down and can be easily removed to empty it and inspect the dyneema chainplate knot.

The whole chainplate can be removed for inspection by taking off the fabric sleeve, slackening the lashing and pulling out the chainplate from below. With a 2.5m dyneema line and a few minutes work we can make a replacement which can be fitted anywhere in the world, even at sea.

Navigation destruction

Meanwhile, I tackled removing the plywood soffit from the underside of the deck above the navigation table. The vinyl headlining had fallen off this very early on due to being very wet from the window above leaking. As expected the hidden side of this plywood showed a lot of water damage.

Then I removed the vinyl from the side of the hull and cut out the plywood that it was stuck to. This was much thicker than the plywood lining has been elsewhere, presumably to provide a good surface to fit instruments to. Now we can reach the bolts for the genoa track and for the gate stanchions – both hidden and unchecked for 44 years.

As you can see the actual chart table has significant water damage. Long term our plan is to remove the whole chart table. We will do on passage navigation and pilotage from the wheelhouse (which we will be able to pretty much fully enclose) so the chart table won’t be needed.

Overall, quite a bit of rubbish removed from the boat:

We haven’t fully decided what to put in this space. The current favourite idea is a comfy forward facing chair with small desk. It should be comfortable to sit in when sailing and also suitable as a quiet place to sit and do computer work. We will wait to see if we do want to fit a Refleks diesel heater, if so then that will go alongside the desk.

We have realised that we can simplify our galley if we can use the electric “Instant Pot” (actually a KingPro branded version) in the current navigation area. At the moment it can just sit on the navigation table (as can an electric filter coffee machine). However, eventually we want a gimballed shelf that we can put up over the desk whenever we want to use one of these appliances at sea. This means that our galley can have a permanent gimballed shelf for the microwave and for one of the induction hobs which is a lot simpler than our original plan.

So we ended up quite happy with today’s progress. Hopefully better weather tomorrow so we can make easier progress.

Some future directions

As you may have seen, we are making a much bigger go at producing YouTube Videos for Sustainable Sailing. I’ve had to learn quite a lot more about making video during the pandemic and we watch a lot of sailing related video content. We hope to manage a couple of short videos a week for the moment with a mixture of action footage of the various tasks and also some with more background reflections.

So head over to the Sustainable Sailing YouTube channel, subscribe, hit the notification button and then play & like everything 🙂

We have also been setting up a Sustainable Sailing page on Ko-fi. At the moment it allows one off donations of any amount or memberships with monthly payments (again any amount, no tiers). We much prefer the business model of Ko-fi over Patreon (especially that they don’t take a huge cut of the donations).

Gradually, we want to add more to our Ko-fi page. There will be physical items to buy, some that we will be making from recycled plastic, others craft items that Jane is planning to make. We are also be looking at adding some “virtual” items such as e-books/guides. Eventually, we plan to develop the membership side with specific content and probably some direct support of great projects that we see around.

In the meantime your support can help us with the equipment we need for the videos. Better lighting is a key priority and then we would love a GoPro.