Radio Fear

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Morgan’s Cloud was anchored in a snug cove in Maine. We had tied everything down on deck and stripped the headsails from the furlers. Hurricane Kyle was bearing down on the coast with forecast 60 knot winds, gusting higher; no worse than we have ridden out many times before in high latitude anchorages, so we were watchful but certainly not fearful.

The Benefits Of Carbon Fibre Masts

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Pictures of Americas Cup-class boat hulls breaking in half and their masts, supported by a plethora of rigging and spreaders, collapsing in relatively benign conditions, have given structures built of carbon fibre an undeserved reputation for fragility. John challenges this impression.

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The New Mast, Why?

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The most expensive and stressful part of our latest refit to “Morgan’s Cloud” was the replacement of her mast. So why did we do it? Simple, peace of mind.

Q&A: Homebuilding A Boat

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Question: I am a novice at sailboat construction, but found a beautiful fiberglass hull on eBay and couldn’t resist the challenge of building my own [boat]. It’s 45’ LOA, 36’ LWL, 5’-3” draft, 14’ beam and 9’-6” depth of hull amidships. The hull is believed to have been built in the early 1970s, but there is no documentation and no plans that go with it. On the plus side, it has remained, since its construction, in a warehouse, protected from the elements. It is really a shell sans bulkheads, frames or stringers, but with exquisite lines. The construction appears to be ½” Airex core, skinned inside and out with ¼” fiberglass. I want it to be a center cockpit schooner and was hoping that you could steer me to some place where can I get some kind of professional help for bulkheads and the like.

Q&A: Tef-Gel Versus Never-Seez

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Question: I am intrigued by your high praise for Tef-Gel. I have not heard of it before, and in the past I have used ‘anti-seize’ for mooring shackles and installing stainless steel fasteners in aluminum. I am curious about your experience with ‘anti-seize’ versus Tef-Gel. In addition, I have had good luck using BP Blaster to loosen s/s fasteners in aluminum when there is some corrosion. What works for you when s/s fasteners are being stubborn?

Q&A: Sailboat Stability Contradiction

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Question: I recently had an interesting discussion about stability with a cruising yacht owner, and I thought this topic would be of real interest to any high latitude sailor. And I also suspect that you would have traversed this terrain long ago and have an opinion.

After the 1979 Fastnet race, the Joint Committee on Safety from Capsizing made the following recommendation: “The most significant contribution to the resistance to wave-induced capsize would be to increase the roll moment of inertia of yachts”. For a sailing yacht, adding mass at the top of the mast would increase roll inertia more than adding mass anywhere else (hulls are normally designed to support a given keel weight and depth, and adding additional weight to the keel is not recommended).

At the same time, various regulatory agencies and yacht racing bodies have firm guidelines, even rules, to ensure the highest possible Angle of Vanishing Stability (also know as Limit of Positive Stability). For a monohull, removing that same mass that we placed at the top of the mast, would have a more beneficial effect on the LPS than shifting the same amount of mass anywhere else on the boat.

Unless I am overlooking something, there’s contradictory advice here. To prepare a yacht to resist wave-induced capsize, do I favour an increase in roll inertia, or do I favour an increase in LPS? If I favour LPS, I would probably end up doing things that would diminish roll inertia (like keeping weight close to the deck).

Do you favour one approach more than the other, and why?

Q&A: Risk Management, Hurricanes

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Question [received July 11, 2008]: We’re in St. John’s, Newfoundland, waiting to cross to Scotland. We’re just about ready to go and the weather forcast is good for leaving. However, Hurricane Bertha is just south of Bermuda. The current forecast is for her to weaken to 55 knots within four to five days, and stay well south of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

It seems possible for us to go now and if Bertha speeds up and heads northeast we could head for the Labrador Sea to get out of her way. Would you consider leaving a stupid choice to make?

How To Home Build a Hard Dodger For an Offshore Sailboat

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After reading about our hard dodger, very experienced liveaboard voyagers Lane and Kay Finley sent along a detailed description of their hard dodger, complete with photographs. The advantage of theirs over ours is that it is all hard with glass windows; much stronger and pretty much maintenance free. On the other hand, I like the larger expanse of window, fewer blind spots and curved shape of ours.