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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.