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2015-08-21

Stepping up

Well, this has been some time coming. Alchemy's mast is in. Even the gods got in on the act.

Mast appeal.
Having finished the fuel system (save for a nagging problem I will report on in an addendum to the previous post), and therefore being mobile, I thought "hell, there's two months left until haulout, might as well try sailing the steel boat for the first time in..urm...some time".

I'm on a club team called "the Mooring Committee", and many of them kindly showed up to make short work of the turnbuckles and lines. Photo (c) Malcolm Kirk
It doesn't take a village to raise a mast, but about eight guys makes it pretty efficient. Photo (c) Malcolm Kirk


This required requesting my club's staff to move some trailered boats from in front of the mast racks, on which our poor neglected spar has been laying, Lazarus-like, for years awaiting the miracle of completed boat jobs.

Note to self: Don't shoot with Lanacote on fingers.
Sawhorses of the plastic variety were deployed (I have quite a collection) and members of the redoubtable NYC Mooring Committee were dragooned into shifting the very heavy (I estimate about 300 kilo) Selden spar onto the sea wall, aft of the pump out. That happened Monday. We (Mrs. Alchemy was available Monday and Tuesday) have been attending mast every day since.

Spreaders add another 20 kilos.
There was plenty to do: lubricating sheaves (there are sixon this mast, four up top and two for the staysail halyard and a spare for, say, a pole lift); checking cotter pins; cleaning at least some dirt; reeving new Dyneema-cored halyard (four reeved at about 100 feet each); straightening out line and stay and shroud runs; and a great deal of rewiring. Might as well do it right, or at least, less wrong.

A little loop of wire keeps the shroud in place until it's tensioned.


Another view: Normally, these "keeper" wires at the spreader ends would be taped or "booted", but I don't intend to do much heavy weather sailing over the next two months, just to reacquaint myself with her characteristics.

How the semi-senile skipper keeps 11 stays and shrouds straight.

The halyards I got at a bulk discount. Basically, I bought 80% of a reel of the stuff. I wanted Dyneema core for strength and its low-stretch characteristics, which I favour in halyards, and the Dacron cover for UV protection and "hand feel". It's the same size (1/2") as the stock Dacron line it replaces.
And it's pretty by virtue of being clean.
This doesn't mean the old line is compromised, but it's impressively grubby; I will machine-wash it all and make all sorts of lighter-duty runs out of it.

Why, yes, the tight angles of that Windex are pretty optimistic, but a skipper can dream.
I put in a new LED masthead light purchased last year (long-time readers will recognize this habit of buying stuff before I'm prepared to install it). I hit a wall in terms of fishing 65 feet of three-conductor wire, so I recut the old wires, crimped and heat-shrank on some adhesive tubing and I'll sort out the wiring at the bottom later. It'll be off in two months, anyway. 

Whip it good.
I also replaced the feeble old VHF antenna mount with a new Metz whip. Thanks to Active Surplus, I found reasonably priced PL-259 connectors, and got soldering. Plugging everything together today into the SH GX2200 base unit brought a gratifying "5 by 5" comment from the Coast Guard. I noticed immediately that I was acquiring more AIS targets, so I deem it functional.
Boom!
After some expert Polecatting, we got the stick in without incident, despite having to send up Sailor Jeff in a bosun's chair to undo the hook and sling. The solar panels, removed to address the error of "not remembering where the backstays go", will probably stay off until I can have their arch redone to take the outer panels offset. The engine performed flawlessly, as did the steering in tight conditions and blustery wind. Rigging the boom, the mainsheet and the topping lift didn't take as long as tidying up the pilothouse, which tends to sprout toolish disorder after one of these sort of jobs.
What tangles that remain I'll solve tomorrow.
Now, to prise the sails out of their hidey holes in the garage...