Cape Lookout Summer Cruise

We had hoped to sail to Bermuda this summer but it was just not in the cards. We had too many balls in the air especially with the kids graduating from home high school and the seminar I teach at Camp Lejeune graduating at the end of May. So, we decided to enjoy a more simple to execute, week long cruise out to the Cape Lookout National Seashore. This trip was just for Gayle and me. Because the kids are usually with us, it was the first time Gayle and I have been alone on the Far Reach for more than a night. So we left the newly graduated high school seniors at home with a credit card and the car keys.


The Far Reach all provisioned and ready to go.

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Upgrading Primary Winches—Phase II. And a new winch base design.


Before: The primary winches were on a 2” riser pad and were, by design,  very tall winches.  They also suffered from aluminum/bronze corrosion—IMO a fundamentally bad design.


After: The new primaries are a little shorter in height plus I removed the riser pad.  They are the same model as the smaller stays’l winches we installed last fall. Note the new winch base with bronze plate.

After completing a number of small projects this year, it was time to tackle the last big project for the foreseeable future—installing the new primary winches. The new winches are bronze Lewmar Ocean Series ST 46 two speed winches. The 46s replace the original 1982 era bronze two speed Lewmar 44s.  Though they performed satisfactorily, the 44s were a flawed design from the beginning, mixing aluminum with bronze. The aluminum jaws were ate up with galvanic corrosion.  For more information on the original installation click here.

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Stepping It Up



The removable dinghy step is about 24” long x 9” wide.  The sub frame is iroko and the treads are teak.

We have found getting from the dinghy up to the Far Reach is not always so easy. It’s a little over 40” from the waterline to the top of  the bulwarks.  It’s not just us.  I think many cruisers find climbing from the dinghy to the mothership a challenge, especially as we get older.  And, the traditional stern on the Far Reach means the best way to embark or debark is along-side vice over the stern.  Many modern sailboat designs include the now ubiquitous “sugar-scoop” transom, which greatly simplifies the task of getting from the dinghy to the sailboat.  The disadvantage of a sugar-transom is that it makes the boat less secure.   It’s easy for an  unwanted visitor to get aboard the boat by clandestinely swimming up to the stern and crawling up and over the sugar-scoop.  And sugar scoops, generally, detract from the aesthetics of the boat. But I digress

We normally had no trouble boarding when we used the inflatable though it was dicey in an anchorage with a significant swell. We stood up on the inflated tube and though it was a big step to the deck it was doable. But, forget it in the Fatty Knees especially with a big swell or chop running because a hard dinghy requires you to exit from the center of the dinghy.  You simply can’t make a step that big.  We tried incorporating our swim ladder into the boarding process but it’s long length often resulted in the dinghy crashing into the ladder with the potential to mar the finish on the Far Reach and the dinghy.   I don’t like a lot of excitement for something that should be as simple as climbing in and out of the dinghy.  When you’re living on the hook the transfer between the mothership and dinghy is an everyday event.  We depend on the Fatty Knees, so we needed to come up with a solid reliable solution.

After thinking about it for nearly two years we developed a plan based on an idea from Lin and Larry Pardey.  In their book, The Cost Concious Crusier, they wrote about how to make a removable dinghy boarding step. The one they describe however required fixed pad eyes added to the bulwark of the mothership.  The step was attached to the padeyes.  I did not want a permanent location or a requirement to bolt on hardware to our bulwarks. After more thinking and sketching we developed a design that incorporated removable bronze brackets, with welded eyes, padded with leather, that fit over the bulwark wherever we wanted.

I made a mock-up of the bulwarks from some scrap pine and gave it, along with a diagram of the brackets, to my best friend. I also included some scraps of silicon bronze I had left over from when we built the bulwarks brackets. He heated the bronze and bent the shape very accurately and then welded on the rings. He did a beautiful job.  I polished them up and added the leather.  That solved the problem for how to attach the step to th boat.


My friend Steve Chase heated and bent the silicon bronze brackets to fit a mock-up of the bulwarks.  He he then heated, bent, and welded 5/16” silicon bronze rod for the pad eyes. He did a fantastic job. I glued the leather into the brackets to protect the bulwarks.


The brackets drop easily onto the bulwarks and can be  quickly positioned along the length of the deck.  Egads!  Look at the grime on the top-sides. The picture was taken during the winter when 5e water was turned off to keep the pipes from feezing.  The Far Reach needed a bath!

To make the step, I decided to build a mock up to help me determine how long and wide the step should be. While a wider step might seem better, I wanted a step that would be easy to store and employ.  So, I cut a scrap plank of  pine and tested out the design on the Far Reach. A step about 24” wide and about 8.5” wide seemed right.


I used a scrap piece of 5/4 home deck board as a mock-up to determine the demensions of the step.  I taped some scrap indoor/outdoor carpet to the plank to serve as a cushion.   

Then it was time to build the step itself. I incorporated some teak off-cuts left over from building the dorades along with the scrap (Iroko I think) from the old cockpit lockers I replaced during the rebuild. The only new purchases required were the 40 inches of “Gunwale-Guard” and some #6 bronze screws and finish washers I purchased from Jamestown Distributors.

The step is built in two parts: First, a frame, incorporating halflap joints from the old Iroko cockpit frame.  The frame itself is made from is 3/4” thick x 1.5” iroko with the aforementioned half-laps.  Second, the treads are  3/4“ thick x 4.5” wide Burmese teak with a 3/8” gap set between them.  The final step is 24” wide and about 9” deep. It would have been possible to make the step from a single plank of wood about 3/4”-1” thick but the narrowest gunnel guard was for an edge about 1.5” thick. So the thicker double frame seemed the best way to make it fit properly with the Gunnel Guard



The half-laps were a good tight fit so I used resorcinol to glue the joints.



Once the glued half-laps were cured I glued and screwed the teak planks to the subframe.  I staggered the holes to avoid splitting the wood.  I installed wood plugs to cover the holes.

I glued and screwed the teak planks (left over from building the dorades) to the iroko subframe. I staggered the holes to avoid splitting the wood.

I used aerodux 185 resorcinol to glue up the subframe that used half-lap joints.  Then, I used resorcinol and bronze screws to glue and screw the steps to the frame.  Next, I drilled a hole in each corner of the step to accommodate the 3/8” Dacron three strand line that would serve as an adjustable bridal incorporating cow hitches for the brackets and figure eight knots to set the bridal length.  I attached the padded “Gunnel Guard” with bronze screws and finish washers and finished it off with some leather end covers.


I purchased the Gunnel Guard and fasteners from Jamestown Distributors.


I cut the Gunnel Guard to fit the required length and Gayle sewed the edge back together.  I covered the ends with chromed tanned leather to give it a clean finished look

We have not had a chance to try it out but I suspect we will have plenty of opportunity this summer. We don’t have a lifeline gate—so it’s up and over the life lines, under the lifelines, or release the life line when boarding.


The new step can be positioned where needed on either side of the boat.  It’s large enough to be stable yet small enough to be stowed in the lazerette.

We can position it wherever we want but I think  next to the boom gallows is probably the best place. The deck is wide there and the gallows frame is a great hand-hold.  The step is big enough to provide a secure and stable step but small enough to be portable and easy to store.


Building Dorades


The dorade boxes were in bad shape.  Originally, I varnished them but finally painted them white after repeated mysterious varnish failures.

I have known for a long time that I needed to replace the dorade boxes on the Far Reach. During the six year long rebuild I was on a budget so I had to decide how to spend the time and money, where to save the time and money, and when to live to fight another day.   So, building new dorades was saved for another day…which, finally, arrived a few weeks ago

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Let There Be Light–Adding LED Lights.


The Alpenglow LED lights are a nice addition to the Far Reach .

From the beginning of our rebuild of the Far Reach we had three goals that guided our efforts: First, was to make her as simple as possible. Second, was to make her comfortable and enjoyable to sail and live aboard. Last, she had to be beautiful. I call our philosophy “elegant simplicity.”

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Removable Side-Mount Rotating Arm Engine Bracket




Here we are departing Hancock Marina on 29 Nov 2015 for the BVI.  There was not a breath of air.  We used the engine to get to the head of Adams Creek on the ICW that afternoon.  The next day we sailed all the way down the ICW, under two bridges, and out to Cape Lookout where we waited for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. A few days later a friend linked up with us in the Bight at Cape Lookout and we transferred the engine to his skiff.  We sailed to the BVI engine free.

While I would prefer to have the Far Reach engine free all the time it would require access to a mooring that we could sail on and off. There are very few moorings in NC and none where we are. She is berthed in a small marina with 360° of protection. So, we often carry a Honda 9.9hp four stroke outboard on a custom-made removable swing arm bracket attached to the port quarter. The outboard allows us to more conveniently move her in and out of her slip, make the tight turn onto the fairway, then exit the narrow 1/4 mile long channel out to the Neuse River.

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Crank Up the Heat: An Efficient Heater Extends Your Sailing Season.


Not only is an efficient heater a wonderful luxury, it greatly extends the sailing season.

It was about 40° F when I got to the boat the other day. Had a few small projects to accomplish and I needed to complete some reading for a college seminar I teach one night per week.  When we rebuilt the Far Reach we installed a small Danish designed gravity drip heater called a Refleks M66MK.  It is normally set up for diesel fuel but since we don’t have an inboard engine we jetted  it for slightly more efficient kerosene.  The combusted fuel is vented out of the boat via the flue and a Refleks smoke-head.

The fan on the heater top is called an Eco Fan. It runs through a process called the pelitier effect which is the result of the second law of thermodynamics—heat flows from an object at a higher tempature to a body at a cooler temperature.  The fan sits on the cast iron heater top-plate.  The fan base absorbs heat which in turn moves towards the cooling fans.  In the process, the heat passes over a thermocouple.  As as a result, a small amount of electricity powers a 12 volt fan located in the fan body, which drives the fan blade.  The fan does a wounderful job of moving the warm air around the boat.  It can also be repositioned to blow the heat in any direction desired.



When I arrived at the boat it was 42° F.

In no time the boat was toasty warm. The Refleks Heater Has settings from 1-8.  We had it on level 1 or 2 … so it’s very efficient.


It took maybe 40 minutes to get the temp up to 72° F.

The boat is wonderfully comfortable and quiet.  Like a well made tiny house but ready to go to sea and serve as our magic carpet to any place we may desire.

Another Stays’l Modification—Brass Luff Rings


I replaced the heavy and clumsy brass piston hanks on the stays’l with traditional brass luff rings.

We use SS 7×7 5/16” wire rope for all the standing rigging on the Far Reach, except the forestay. For the forestay, we use synthetic 9mm Dynex Dux (heat treated dyneema). Recently, we modified the forestay to make it easy to detach it from the gammon iron. That modification allows us to open up the foretriangle making it easier to short tack as the forestay is no longer an obstruction to the jib. The modification, includes a partially covered dyneema that serves as a lanyard, and a few low-friction rings.

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A Reefing Jib With A Zippered Bonnet


On the left is the genoa with the zippered bonnet.   At the upper left of the photo you can see the working jib clew cringle and just below it the leather cover that protects the zipper.  You can clearly see the zipper running diagonally down from left to right. You might also notice there’s is no cover for the majority of the zipper.  It seems to handle the loads just fine.

I have been asked about our bonneted jib a number of times.  I was asked about it again the other day on the Cape Dory forum.  So, it seemed like a good time to provide more detail to those who might be interested.

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Refining the Jib Downhaul System


On passage, with a double reefed main and a stays’l.  About 150 nm SSE of Bermuda enroute to the BVI, Dec 2015.  The downhaul keeps the head of the sail secured to the deck yet the halyard remains connected to the jib and ready to be hoisted in an instant.  The coiled downhaul is tied to the lifeline.  Photo by Tricia Stone

I like sailing with a hank-on jib. A hank-on jib is more efficient and longer lived than a furling headsail. It is less expensive. There is less maintenance required and it is more reliable. But it is not as convienent as a furling jib…no doubt about it. While there are techniques for managing a hank on jib that are tried and proven, it does take skill, occasional acrobatics, and some planning to keep things under control. Our genoa is about 390 sqft. But, it has a bonnet that we can zip off that reduces it to a working jib size of about 280 sqft. But, the challenges are similar with either headsail.

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