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Sticking around

Much grinding...much.

The Tides Track System I purchased over the winter went onto the mast a few days ago, and the new main is waitng aboard to go on it the first day it isn't blowing a hooley.
It's actually a literally slick piece of kit.
Getting it on took some time and Mrs. Alchemy was both helpful and patient as I lengthened the existing mast gate with a combination of multiple Dremel grinding bits (they really were too small to do more than deburring and clean-up) and the alarming effective six-amp angle grinder, which was bordering on too big, as I was going for precision and the ideal of only removing the minimum of mast to take the fitted "slug-shape" of the bottom of the track. Eventually, we got it done, and my measurements appear sound. The real test will come with the sail hoist and sea trials, but everything in its right order when it comes to commissioning for a new season, right?

Alchemy's Selden mast is heavier than most, because it's specified for an ocean-going motorsailer. I estimate the weight of the mast and the 11 stays (jib, staysail, four lowers, four uppers and two afts) is between 200 and 300 kilos. Usually, I get four or five men to help me deadlift it onto a mast dolly cart maneuvered by the missus, and it's difficult for me alone to rotate it once it's on four sawhorses. Nonetheless, this is invariably part of the preparation, as the many halyards and hoists and stays have to be secured on the right side of the spreaders if angst and shouting are to be avoided when it's hanging from a hook above the tabernacle.
The VHF connector came apart in my hand, so onsite soldering and heatshrinking was required.
The process of getting the stays in the right spot involves wiring them to the spreader ends and taping over the wires to avoid tearing sails. On the boat end, turnbuckles must be inspected and threads lubricated.
The new mast crane, dubbed "the shuttle" is small but up to the task, evidently. Watch yer balls.
Because of the number of stays, the weight (and therefore inertia, should the wind pick up) of the mast and because I have in the tabernacle that needs the mast to be in just the right position to take the transverse mounting pin that allows self-stowing for service or going up French canals, we tend to have a horde of helpers if we can find them to do the job as quickly as possible. This gets us on and off the seawall with a minimum of fuss and delay, as weather windows are tight and everyone wants to get their stick in. Things went largely smoothly, save that a Vice-Commodore split his scalp open walking into one of our solar panels, which was unfortunate. Made of stern stuff, however, he accepted a pint in recompense. It's the club way.
Further tensioning would follow by me back at the dock. The point is to make it good enough to avoid toppling.
I find the new prop is pretty damn effective at stopping the boat, and making use of prop walk is helpful to actually swing the stern into our dock. It alarms observers a bit, however, as they don't expect sudden corrections from one of the bulkier vessels in the club.

Looks like a proper boat again.
Knowing that this weekend was forecasted to be largely wet, cool and approaching gale-force, I spent a couple of hours last night tensioning (but not tuning, that comes later) the stays and shrouds, cleaning up and coiling down the various halyards, bringing down the heavy line used to tie the mast crane hook to the mast (and which I reached by climbing my new steps, which didn't budge) and by setting up the boom, as seen above. I then bungeed everything down, because I dislike "halyard tink" and so do my dockmates.
Still a few tweaks necessary, but things are looking good.
Aside from that solar panel incident, less blood than usual was shed during this year's commissioning and I have a pretty good feeling about the boat in general. All of which is good, because I am going to make some more major changes in the weeks to come.


Silverheels III said...

Hello Marc! Nice mast track. Looks as if you haven't yet made the "which SSB antenna" choice as yet. If you install a good quality 1-1/2 inch block on starboard at masthead and install a light polyester halyard, you'll be able to hoist a light gauge SS wire antenna as we have done. Even if you decide to cut one of the backstays and insert RF insulators, you'll still have a spare halyard for other uses. Our wire antenna has been up permanently since 2009 and some 16,000 sea miles without failure.

Rhys said...

Hi, Ken/Lynn: There's a slot for a sheave at the back of the mast top that will do...we just have to source the sheave and get it on the pin. At that stage I will probably pop for a length of halyard appropriate for this purpose. A light gauge SS wire antenna is totally doable; I have a reel of 1/4" SS wire I fished out of a dumpster years ago that would work.

I dislike on probably superstitious grounds the idea of cutting into an existing backstay; they are 5/16th and go to the stern quarters and help me sleep at night. They also are off-vertical; I would prefer a centerline, perpendicular setup over my steel deck.

The antenna will be the last consideration (although I already have the hole saw!) for the SSB installation. I will probably start in "test mode" with a whip off the stern rail and go to a hoistable antenna next spring when we sort the sheave necessary, although you're right, I could tap in an eye and I have an excellent Harken single block I could use as is if I want to go up there beforehand.

I gather you don't like the "copper wire inside a Dacron sleeve option"?

Silverheels III said...

No copper. It's weak and corrodes and isn't neccessary for high frequency RF. There's no reason to insulate the antenna wire , it actually works better with no insulation and your Dacron sleeve will attract sea salt and damage the copper wire inside it. An 18 inch length of grass trimmer monofilament will suffice as top and bottom insulators , this stuff stands up to UV and weather very well. Tie them to the SS wire with a surgeons knot .A sloper antenna or slightly non vertical wire doesn't matter in long range HF SSB.

Rhys said...

That actually is easier and cheaper for me. I can use 1/4" or 3/16th SS wire, I suppose. I probably have a reel of that in the garage.