Saturday, June 26, 2010


(Please click on any picture for a full-sized version)    (*dodger = eu sprayhood)

I've spent many happy hours in my basement sweat shop doing upholstery work, sail making, and canvas work on an old Pfaff 438 sewing machine. This machine does straight stitch and zig-zag, but has no walking foot, a feature that would be nice to have. But it will sew easily through 7 layers of heavy Dacron, and just as easily through 2 layers of light weight spinnaker cloth.
Several years ago I bought a Lancer 25. I'd never had a boat with a dodger, so thought it might be a good project to tackle. I've seen a few nice looking boats spoiled by ugly canvas work, so my aim was to combine grace with function, and finish with something that added to the boat's beauty, rather than detracting from it.

Armed with Don Casey's book, Canvas Work & Sail Repair, I studied the rudiments of dodger construction, and also built the tubing bender described in the book.

Like most new things I make, trial runs preceded the actual cutting of bought materials. The frame was mocked up from brazed together old electrical conduit, and inexpensive plastic hardware used to attach it to the boat.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To RADAR or not to RADAR.

Radar has been on my 'wants' list for quite a while, but I managed to procrastinate until last week, when I finally got down to some serious research on the Internet.

After making a list of what I would need it for, I came to the conclusion that a low power (1.5 to 2kW) unit with a LCD display would be just fine.  After much reading I narrowed my choice down to a JRC 1000 MKII , a reasonably priced entry level model that would do all I needed it to.

The radome is only 12" in diameter, which makes it a nice compact size for mast mounting. (Being tall, I'm not happy with a radome on a pole behind me in the cockpit, beaming microwaves over, or maybe through, my head).

Unfortunately, this model seems to be no longer available :-(  .... so it was back to the drawing board!

My next candidate was the Furuno 1623 . The radome was 3" bigger (15") but I thought I could live with that, and it got a good review  by Practical Sailor magazine, always a positive sign.

While chatting with a dock mate the subject of radar came up, and he asked if I had heard of the new broadband units. I hadn't, but it sounded interesting, so off I went to spend more time searching the 'net for information.

It appears that Navico (sold under the Simrad, Lowrance, and Northstar labels) has developed a technology, already in use in the aircraft industry, that gives amazing results at closer ranges, which is exactly the area I am usually concerned with.
The unit has many desirable features, such as:
Instant on (no warm up).
Less radiation than a cell phone (mount the radome anywhere).
Targets visible within 10' of the boat.
Sea clutter rejection is up to 5 times better than normal radar.
Crystal clear image, making it easy to interpret the display (less of a learning curve).

After watching several videos, I've decided that "Broadband Radar" was the reason I was procrastinating. The technology has evolved to a more useful and user-friendly stage. Now all I have to do is find the right unit for the right price, which may mean another years wait, and ... more research :-)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The "BLACK FLY" Dinghy 7: First Sail

Today we loaded the 'Fly' on the car, stuffed the rig and sail in the back, and headed down to the marina for the first sail. Pedder Bay is pretty sheltered, and there's always a good breeze blowing, either into or out of the Bay.

Unloading was really easy. The thing only weighs about 30 lbs and was easy to move from the car roof to the dock. With gear loaded in the dinghy I rowed around to where my boat is moored, and installed the mast, boom, sail, and rudder in an adjoining empty slip.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


The following procedure is one I used to lower and raise the mast on my Albin Vega 27. Although the mast is only 30' long, it's quite a heavy piece of gear, and could cause damage and injury if it fell out of control.

I have recounted from memory of what I did two years ago. There may be some gaps, and there may be some changes needed for different boats. I found a slip clear of other boats and had an able helper.

Inspiration for my "A" frame comes from the Alberg 30 group post on the same subject.

Although I didn't take pictures the two times I used the frame, I thought I'd share my design with others who might be interested.

The material for the "A" frame is from a Chain Link Fence supplier, and is 1 7/8" 14 gauge pipe. The nice thing about the fencing material is that each size will fit inside the next larger one, making it easy to sleeve pieces together. Also, it's galvanized for longevity.

I bought two 20' sections and cut them in half, sleeving them together with the next size smaller as inserts. Having them in two pieces made them a lot easier to transport.