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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the last couple weeks we have been working on several projects as we continue to either further refine the Far Reach’s few systems or conduct routine maintenance. One project was the installation of a camcleat for the jib downhaul System, which is a separate article.
The first varnish project was to repair some damaged varnish on the teak stays’l winch bases. The bases are about 4” tall and are varnished. On top of the base is a 2” thick bare teak pad that serves to raise the winch up enough so the drum is above the top of the coaming. Though we varnish the coamings and pads every four months, there was a break in the varnish on the top edge of each pad. Horizontal surfaces always receive more abuse than vertical surfaces so this damage was not a big surprise.