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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Varnish Repairs


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The “scratch and patch” repair technique I used to repair the small damaged area on both winch bases worked very well.  I can’t tell where the repair was made on the port base.  Though it still required five repair coats and two full coats over the entire base it still saved a bunch of work.

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.

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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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