Upgrading Stays’l Winches–Phase I



I originally installed the small, but adequate, Lewmar #10, non self tailing, winches as stays’l sheet winches because I had them on hand and it helped keep us on budget.  You can see one here just forward of the #44 primary winch.

When I rebuilt the Far Reach, paramount to the effort was staying on budget. It was not easy. I had to determine a way to make hard choices. One thing I decided was to make use of what I already had if it was reasonably serviceable and relatively easy to replace or upgrade later.  Winches fell into that category.

The original two speed ST Lewmar 44s were in bad shape. Though powerful, they were a poor design that mixed bronze and aluminum–there was some ugly galvanic corrosion. But they were ridiculously expensive to replace. I could not work around the cost as I was also building a new rig. So I rebuilt them best as I could and pressed on.

When I rebuilt the boat I also redesigned the stays’l layout  and eliminated the club-footed boom.  I installed bronze sheet fairleads on the side deck and installed small (using what I had on hand) #10 single speed non-self-tailing sheet winches on each coaming forward of the #44 primary winches.  The design really proved itself on the trip to and from the West Indies but the small winches were barely adequate.

This past year, I set aside some money every month and during the summer I purchased four new bronze Lewmar Ocean Series self-tailing winches that were on sale. I bought two bronze #46 two speed ST winches to replace the old 44s. And, I bought two bronze #16s to replace the #10 stays’l winches.


Though I did not install them this this time, the new #46s will replace the #44 primary winches during Phase II.  Because I now use a foot/turning block for the jib sheet, I’ll replace the two inch tall teak pad with a one inch tall pad.  That plus the lower profile of the ocean series winch will significantly lower the height of the top of the winch

The #46s have a different bolt pattern than the #44s.  I’ll need to build new teak bases for them this winter. But the 16s have the same pattern as the 10s, so installing them is a simpler job.  I decided now was a good time to install them.

The first order of business required minor disassembly of the overhead and some cabinetry to get to the nuts on the underside of the deck.  This was possible because I designed the new interior to be removable.  It took about 30-40 minutes.


Getting to the nuts was easy.  Removing the 9″ long bolts was more difficult.

The second order of business was to remove the nearly nine inch long, 1/4″, silicon bronze bolts that secured the winches. This was not a simple matter as I had used plenty of polysulfied bedding compound and butyl tape when I installed them several years ago. But, after a day of trying various techniques I managed to get the bolts out intact and without damage.


Third, I cleaned the bolts at home in the shop and polished them up with a buffing wheel so they would more easily slide back down the long holes through the 2″ tall bare teak rider pad, the 4 1/2″ tall base, the 7/8″ thick deck and the 1/4″ G10 backing plate.

I used a 12″ long 1/4″ drill bit to clean out the holes.  I re-chamfered the holes in the teak riser pads to help drive bedding compound around the bolt shafts below the surface of the winch base when I tightened the nuts.  Then I test fit the bases and taped them off.  I removed the winches and positioned the bolts through the holes. I wiped the winch base and the teak pad down with acetone to remove residual oil and grease.  I used butyl tape to make small donuts around the bolts just under the winch base. I applied the polysulfied and installed the winches one at a time. My daughter Cailin used a large screw driver to hold the fasteners in place while I tightened the nuts below deck with a deep socket wrench. We cleaned up the squeeze out, removed the tape, and reinstalled the drums. They looked great. They are more powerful than the #10s and also they are be self-tailing.


The bronze Ocean Series appear to be very nice winches.  They require no tools to disassemble for cleaning.  These are the model BBB which has bronze covers over the ST jaws vice the polymer covers which can degrade in the sun.

I look forward to using them and seeing how they work.  Replacing the primaries is Phase II and replacing the jib and main halyard winches is Phase III.


A New Forestay Release Device




The Far Reach has a headstay and a forestay.  Until recently, the forestay was dyneema with a spliced bronze eye connected to a bronze turnbuckle.  It was difficult to disconnect the forestay and pull it back out of the way to make short tacking easier.

Cutter rigged boats like the Far Reach have a headstay and a forestay. The forestay is sometimes referred to as the inner-stay but it is correctly called the forestay as it supports the fore stays’l.

A challenge for cutter rigged boats is tacking with both stays rigged. If the slot between the two stays is narrow, and sometimes even if it is not particularly narrow, the jib can get “hung up” on the forestay as it passes through the slot from one tack to the other.  When short-tacking (tacking a number of times in rapid succession) up a narrow channel you can get into trouble if your jib fails to pass through the slot between the stays.  Occasional tacks should not  be a concern and every sailor should be able to tack their cutter reliably with only the occasional hiccup.

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A New Mainsail Preventer/Vang


The old vang/preventer required me to go forward to adjust or release it.  And, I don’t like working on the leeward side deck if it’s not necessary

When sailing downwind, especially offshore, there are two specialized control lines you need to have on your boat. Both are associated with the mainsail. The first is a boom-vang and the second is a preventer.

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A Delightful Overnight Trip


The Far Reach anchored overnight in the working harbor of Oriental, NC.

Sure, there is some hyperbole if I said sailing for me is like breathing for the average lubber.  But, you get the point.  I needed to go sailing and an overnight trip on the Far Reach seemed like just the ticket.  With the southern US under what seems like constant threat of hurricanes this year and homeschool in full operation we have to fit sailing in when we can.  But, we finally we had a window of opportunity and grabbed it.

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Finally, we were sailing again.  All better now!

We are about to start our last year of homeschool.  Despite what some people think, it is not a lackadaisical thing if you do it right. It’s a lot of work and takes significant preparation. This year I am teaching Current Events, Civics (for the first semester and Economics for the second semester), and Chemistry.   Gayle teaches language arts, writing, and math–all the hard stuff.  There is Spanish and extra curriculars too. I am also an adjunct professor for the Marine Corps Command and Staff College Distance Education Program teaching a seminar one night a week at Camp Lejeune.  So, once the school years kicks off we have to find time to work on the boat and to sail.  Poised at the beginning of the school year I needed to get out for a sail to charge up my psychological batteries.

So, we managed a daysail on 4 September. There was zero wind on the Neuse River.  We drifted for about an hour under warm sunny skies. I didn’t care. I needed to feel the Far Reach moving under my feet no matter how slight the movement might be. But after awhile the breeze filled and settled in at a steady 12 knts.  We sailed with the big jib, the stays’l, and full main. We tacked, reached, and ran.  It felt wonderful. The Cape Horn windvane, however, seemed a little sluggish.  It was a very nice day. We were back in the slip a few hour later. I felt “mo betta.”

The next day, I went back to the boat and looked the vane over closely. I could feel friction in it when I turned the linkages. I suspected that sand and grit from the large gravel parking lot at the boatyard was the culprit. For a year, the Far Reach had her stern to a near constant breeze that stirred up clouds of the dust and stand intermingled with the gravel. No doubt some of the debris had found its way into the fittings and bushings of the vane.  So, I removed the windvane tower and took it home.  I took it apart on the bench–I had exchanged emails with Eric Sicotte, the Nephew of Yves Gelinas, who builds them.  I flushed the UHMW bushings with water, wiped them down with clean rags and sprayed silicone lubricant on the parts. I greased the only part that requires it and put it back together.  A couple days later I took it back to the Far Reach and reinstalled it.

Hopefully we will get back on the water soon.

Anchor Chafing Guards



The new larger more abrasion and impact resistant anchor chafing guards.

One of the projects we completed when we originally launched the boat, in the early summer of 2015,  after the six year rebuild was to install chafing guards on the bowsprit to protect it from the stowed anchor banging in to it.  I simply glued leather patches to the bowsprit and then used copper tacks to secure copper flashing to the leather and the bowsprit.  You can read about it here in the daily log under the 17 Nov 2015 entry.

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Back In The Water



Relaunching at Beaufort Marine Center, NC. It’s always nerve wracking to see the Far Reach like this.

16 August 2017–It took 14 months but we finally relaunched the Far Reach on 15 Aug 2017.  During that time we completed several projects, the most important of which was completely repainting the topside from the waterline to the gunwale. This was necessary to address the bubbles that formed in the Awlgrip during our offshore passage to the West Indies in December 2015.  You can see the details of that project on our website http://www.farreachvoyages.com. We also touched up the barrier coats and repainted the bottom with anti-fouling paint.

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A Powerful Passage to Freedom


There is simply nothing like running downwind in the trades.

With our off-shore adventure on pause it was time to put the Far Reach on the hard. I have several small boat projects to complete, a summer of family camping planned, and prep work to complete for the kids 11th grade home-school year. Since I can’t spend time on her, better to have the Far Reach as safe as possible with hurricane season upon us.

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