The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

The Rolling Refit Continues

It has been many years since I overwintered a boat in Scotland and I’d quite forgotten what a challenge it is. Wild winds, bitterly cold temperatures that leave decks like an ice rink, and impossibly short days that never seem to get light enough to see what you’re doing.

But all of the servicing and maintenance tasks have got to be done, so we’ve been busy bashing through our worklist and have made good progress.

When I drafted up the list, I drew the line at 50 items—beyond that it becomes too depressing! As you would expect, these are prioritised in order of importance.

But I’m all too well aware that there will be the unexpected jobs to add to the list, the kind of ghastly things you notice out of the corner of your eye…if you look hard enough. As the great Bill Tilman was wont to quote, these are:

Nothing, a trifling sum of Misery, New added to the foot of thy Account.

Cleomenes, The Spartan Heroe: A Tragedy, John Dryden

Since we are on a tight budget and are trying to recycle wherever possible, we face some additional constraints to what we can and will achieve. But whatever you do, don’t worry, you will always have enough jobs left over for the following year’s list.

So, as always, we started with the essentials. Sails, rig, steering and engine. Then there were the others…

Let’s see where we are at.

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Dick Stevenson

Hi Colin,
Good description, great information, some good warnings and all delivered in your usual clear and entertaining style.
Thanks, my best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Stein Varjord

Hi Colin,
Had several points of recognition here, on the not so pleasant type of memories. Old boats and low budgets do find each other, even though they’re no good match. 🙂

I’m also considering an inner flying forestay for the storm jib. Details are still on the drawing board, but I’m thinking the lower end will be at the same point as the main forestay. The top probably where the lower shrouds are. That gives stability without adding running back stays. This is low enough to bring the sail centre noticeably further aft, even with the same lower end as the jib.

The stay will be Dyneema fixed at the top end and tensioned at the lower end by another Dyneema line through low friction rings, lead to a winch. The sail will probably be high clew, almost yankee style. Sheeted via the simplest possible floating system, also with low friction rings to the spinnaker winches.

The reason for using low friction rings rather than blocks is negligible cost, super low weight, zero maintenance and top reliability. The system wil be rarely used, so chafe is not an issue.

Stein Varjord

Hi Colin,
My storm jib project is most likely a bit into the future, as there are several other tasks at hand, so I guess you’ll be ahead of me.

You’re right that I have a cat. They do as you mention react differently to helm imbalance, but it’s still important to avoid lee helm. Most cruising cats don’t tack easily, due to their significant windage and conservative rig size. That applies to us too, but we’re a bit better off than the condomarans.

In say 20 knots wind, we can tack our cat with only the jib up. It’s not easy, but it works. Significantly more or less wind and that’s not possible. Parasitic drag becomes too much compared to the available driving power. We can’t overcome the imbalanced helm. With a storm jib with its sail centre slightly further aft, that workable window should move up and widen noticeably, but I have no illusion that it’ll be enough.

For windward work in a serious blow we absolutely will need another sail further aft. Perhaps a trysail rigged on a flying Dyneema stay aft of the mast, similar to the storm jib, might be an option. Perhaps that stay could act as the mast stabilizer, if it’s at the same height as the storm jib stay? Like a central runner only used when that’s needed anyway?

About the new way of doing things. Low friction rings, rope lashings and similar. I’ve gotten into that via racing in Formula 28 and several other similar extreme classes decades ago, which was the most high tech there was. Still, the methods we used were very similar to what we can find on traditional boats. Then with different materials, but the methods are much the same.

I really like to see that the fundamentals of engineering guide ut back to what was a necessity when the challenge was that materials were primitive. Now, the challenge is maximum performance and reliability with minimum weight. We find the same answers. Ropes and rings are usually far better than metal mechanics. The tall ships and even the Viking ships used many similar solutions. Full circle. I love it.

Ben Logsdon

That cleat picture was truely frighting. If you have access to West Marine, they are currently running buy-one-get-one sale on Lewmar winches and seem to do so every year. I realized this only after I bought used winches (two generations old) on eBay for only slightly less than I could have bought new ones. I decided I’ll call them “vintage” to mach my 1983 boat. Keep up the excellent work on your good old boat!

Ralph Rogers

Hi, spent the winter on board too, although not nearly as cold or snowy in the US Pacific Northwest. Except for one serious ice storm where all the hatches iced over and I had a hard time opening them from the inside.
Anyway, great article as always. I love your style of writing. It makes me feel warm inside for some reason, and gives me confidence. (OK, mushy)

Nat Smith

I enjoy all of your missives, but this one even more than most as this reminded me of my rebuild of our previous boat. Our Soleil was of similar size and design to Sherpa, except that we had 2 spreaders which made for an easy & obvious place to put the top of the stormsail inner stay.

Good catch on the bow cleat! The worst hidden problem I have encountered was with SS chainplate bolts. They were only 18 years old and looked fine, but when the nut was removed from one of the bolts, the bolt came apart in 2 pieces. And it was a thick bolt!

All the best!
s/v Pantala (which goes back in the water tomorrow!)

David Courtenay-Clack

Hi Colin
Thanks for a most interesting post
Thank heavens you spotted that foredeck cleat issue! I will be checking mine this week
I had a similar problem with a Nic 32s stem head that had stainless bolts secured into embedded aluminium backing plate and regular stainless screws through the deck
How it lasted 45 years I have no idea!
Issy (H R Kutter 94) was losing coolant that took some tracking down
It turned out to be a calorifier connection
The batteries were wrongly wired so I was using the service batteries to start the engine
The sails have had a good service but the boat is a motor sailer so if going to windward the engine will come in handy!
She will suit me for a few years and keep me sailing and occupied
All the best from a very wet Cornwall
David CC