A cool tool for tuning a one-design boat where the settings are known, as they are on our J/109. Probably not worth the money otherwise.
Tip Topic: rigging
Stopping Rigging Hum Q & A
Member Arne asked:
When I tuned the rig on my OVNI, it started vibrating/resonating in the wind when on anchor. It starts at fairly low wind speeds, and I can’t tell exactly where in the rig it is. I can sometimes feel some vibrations in the shrouds. It sounds like a motorboat approaching a couple hundred meters away, so not super loud, but pretty annoying still. Is this a problem you have experienced or have any tips on a remedy?
Rigging vibration is both common and hard to diagnose, and even harder to stop completely. A few things based on my own experience over the years that may help:
- Although it does happen, vibration and hum are rarely caused by wire standing rigging. The wire may vibrate, but that’s unlikely to be the source.
- Rope rigging is likely to be the original source. Places to look include:
- Topping lift, probably the most common source.
- Rope running backstays. We loved the change to HM rope on our McCurdy and Rhodes 56, but there are always tradeoffs. The wire never hummed and the rope often did.
- Rope halyards that are not in use and set up hard can often be the source.
There are probably more proposed solutions to the rigging vibration problem than there are sailors, and few, if any, work every time. Here are a few that have helped us, but none are a panacea:
- Change the tension on the offending halyard or stay.
- If it’s the topping lift, get rid of the damned thing.
- If you must keep the topping lift, attach a piece of shock cord. Might not fix it, but it’s a good hack.
- If it is the wire rigging, install a backstay adjuster so you can slack the rig off at anchor. It’s a great upgrade for a whole bunch of reasons.
- Stringing a piece of shock cord from a tight and humming runner to a shroud and then varying the tension and position until it stops.
That’s all I got. Anyone else have any bright ideas on how to stop rigging hum?
Note, we have already covered rig pumping, which is a different problem.
Turnbuckle Securing Hack
Here’s a quick way to secure turnbuckles with no need for taping and that is quick to take off when we need to adjust the rig.
The secret is selecting a ring-ding (a technical term that shows the user is a real professional rigger) that is just too big in diameter to allow the barrel to turn.
Here’s a bunch more rigging tips, including another way to secure turnbuckles that’s more suitable for offshore boats.
Good Rivet Gun
If you need to pull 1/4” stainless steel rivets you need a good gun. This one has worked well for me.
Self-Tailing Winch Stripper Positioning
Last summer I tweaked the position of the strippers on our sheet winches. Makes all the difference to usability and sheet holding if we get a full wrap from the stripper to the direction the crew will pull really right.
Before the change we were having trouble with the sheet slipping out of the stripper after a tack. After the change, problem gone. Small adjustment, big gains.
Disturbing Failure Modality In Some Fall Arrest Devices
While researching fall arrest devices I came across the video below from a seemingly credible source that explains how several popular devices can fail to arrest if the attaching carabiner gets oriented in ways that I can easily see happening when climbing masts.
Worth 15 minutes of your time, particularly if you use climbing backup devices.
Important Update To Recent Mast Climbing Article
I have just updated my latest mast climbing article in light of some very important and counterintuitive new information that climber, sailor, and AAC friend-in-the-comments Drew found.
Easy To Grab Rope Tail
If we have a short rope tail, here’s a knot that gives us more to grab than the classic figure-eight stopper knot. The above is the sprit extension line on our J/109.
I have no idea what it’s called or where I learned it. Might be Boy Scouts 60 years ago. Anyway, it’s quick and easy to tie and stays put. Looks kind of salty, too.
Here’s the three step process:
And, yeah, I know our J/109 has terrible gel coat crazing. (Looks worse when I have not cleaned lately.) All the Tillotson Pearson boats do from that time. Bad batch of gel coat.
At least it doesn’t let water into the laminate because the first layers are vinylester.
Maybe one day we will fix it…probably not, doesn’t slow her down any.
Going Aloft Articles
I went up the mast today to remove the fragile stuff from the top prior to unstepping. A highly recommended precaution if you don’t like paying for new wind instrument wands.
Phyllis and I had this down cold on our McCurdy and Rhodes 56, but it’s always a bit nerve wracking on a new-to-us boat with different gear and set up.
We took a bunch of photos of the new gear we are using for a two part article Matt and I are doing together on going aloft. Look for it over the winter.
Marking Port and Starboard Shrouds For Tune
Adding to my last tip.
It’s pretty unlikely that the port and starboard shrouds are exactly the same length, so if we want to be able to duplicate mast tune in the spring we better not mix them up.
I used to put cardboard labels on, but they get soggy and fall off, so now I just tie a piece of light line with two knots for starboard and one for port. Works great.
I mark both, so if one gets removed, I still have the other.
What mental trick do I use to remember which has one knot and which two, without having to write it down or find the photos above? Leave a comment.
Hint, it’s not the colour of the line, I just happened to have some red.
Preserving Mast Tune Hack
I spent a lot of the summer getting the mast tune exactly the way I wanted it on our J/109. Now it’s time to decommission and I don’t want to lose that.
So I carefully measured the distance between the threaded studs in the turnbuckles for the shrouds and backstay.
To make this work you need accurate calipers, and digital ones make it way easier and faster.
Thanks to member Dick for this tip.
As to getting the tune right in the first place, we have four step-by-step instruction chapters on that.
Q&A Hydraulic In-Boom Roller Furling in Antartica
Very experienced member Matthieu Chauvel asked:
Does anyone have experience with hydraulic in-boom furling systems in below-freezing conditions (and/or proper heavy seas, 50 kts+)? Asking for owners of a yacht heading down to Antarctica that has what they (and the builder of course) say is quite a beefy, reliable custom system, but it hasn’t been tested in polar conditions yet.
Even night temperatures should remain well above the hydraulic fluid freezing point (call it -20 C with a little error margin) during the summer season, but maybe viscosity becomes a problem above that level? General ice build-up solutions and difficulty of sending crew forward while getting hosed down, at night, in towering waves already mentioned to them, but it would be nice to hear from people who have managed in that environment without problems, if any.
Sorry, I don’t have much useful experience with hydraulic in-boom in extreme conditions. I was in the Arctic with one of those systems, but it did not get that cold.
The one thought I do have is that fisherfolk out of Atlantic Canada regularly work the waters of Hudson Strait in early winter, and so do Norwegian fisherfolk up as far as Svalbard, with hydraulics so it must be a solvable problem.
But, more importantly, if I were taking a boat into the high latitudes I would not have a complex system like that, particularly since the builder admits it has not been tested in those conditions.
I’m assuming this is a big boat, but even so I would go with slab reefing and then if worried about sending someone forward to the mast, bring the lines aft, although that would not be my choice. Instead, I would do good mast pulpits and a proper centreline jackline system.
I might also consider a Park Avenue boom, but that could also catch snow and ice, so maybe not.
If worried about loads on the reefing lines because of the boat size, I would install cross connected winches with coffee grinder pedestals. Two people can easily move a lot of line with a setup like that.
One could also add a hydraulic drive to the winches, but that adds risk and I would want to know the boat could be operated safely if the hydraulics failed.
Skip Novak has managed big boats fine in extreme conditions this way for decades and Phyllis and I had no trouble with slab on a 56-foot boat, including reefing and striking in 50-knot winds on one memorable occasion.
I would also say to your friend, if the boat is too big to handle with these simple systems, then add crew, probably professional.
We only have to look at what happened on Escape to see the dangers of a boat that is too big for the crew, and has complex systems, and that was not in the Drake Passage where conditions are likely to be far worse.
And I can’t tell you how scared I was of the automated rig on a big boat I went to Greenland on. If we had encountered 50 knots and big seas things would have almost certainly ended badly.
I do differ from Skip in one regard. I would add a storm trysail on its own track with its own halyard, so when expecting extreme conditions the main would come down and the trysail set. This, together with a storm jib set on an inner stay, is a rig that can take us to hell and back in safety.
If your friend decides to stick with in-boom, then I would strongly recommend this change. In fact, they could just motorsail to and from Antartica with this rig up, and be safe.
Matt, given your experience, I’m guessing I’m preaching to the choir, and I get that your friend won’t want to make all, or maybe any, of my recommended changes for one voyage, but maybe that just means he or she has the wrong boat for going to Antartica.
Anyway, thinking and writing about this was interesting.
Reefing Horn Hack
Reefing horns are a nice simple way to secure the tack when reefed, but they can also foul the sail when hoisting. A PITA, particularly on boats with the halyard led aft to the cockpit.
This simple hack using a piece of fuel hose with the same ID as the horn OD, that I had in stock, solved the problem.
Transparent reinforced water hose would look nicer, but hey, the black matches the carbon sails that came with the boat!
John Kretschmer Reefs Downwind
A few days after we published my article about the causes of the tragedy on Escape, I received this unsolicited email from John Kretschmer:
I am writing to commend you for your recent piece,”Lessons from a Tragedy at Sea.” It’s sober but hopefully enlightening to many. You are spot on.
The notion of coming up to reef the main, in a big boat especially, is madness and, simpy, bad seamanship.
We reef Quetzal exactly how you describe reeﬁng Morgan’s Cloud, using the preventer to maintain boom control, easing off to about 100° apparent, and having a slippery track and cars, and stout gear for hoisting again.
I have completed 161 training passages aboard Quetzal in the last 19 years, which is kind of crazy, and logged more than 150,000 miles on this old girl in the process, and we have reefed off the wind every time. And I almost always have inexperienced crew, or at least crew new to Quetzal, so it’s not that this is a strategy reserved for master mariners.
John Kretschmer is one of the most experienced mariners of our time and always worth listening to. I think the most important part of the quote for most of us is “it’s not that this is a strategy reserved for master mariners”.
John went on to provide some tips on reefing off the wind with in-boom roller furling systems, which I will share in a future article.
Dead Ending Reefing Pennants
Most people dead end reefing pennants round the boom with a bowline, but that’s hard to tie tight and even harder to untie after it’s been under load. And don’t even think about using a buntline hitch unless you want to use explosives to untie it.
There’s a better way: the humble timber hitch, finished off with a figure eight, as shown.
Quick to tie, and easy to untie no matter how hard it’s been loaded.
Not sure where I learned this—the sort of thing the great Rod Stephens would have come up with—but I have been terminating reefing pennants this way on all kinds of boats for some 50 years and have never had one fail on me.