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The Sailboat Cruiser ~ Issue #30
August 09, 2016

The Sailboat Cruiser

The Sailboat Cruiser is the free monthly newsletter of and sets out to bring you the news, views and general musings of, well, me - Dick McClary, a sailboat cruiser and creator/owner of the website.

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Newsletter #30 - August 2016

What's in This Issue:

It's a Small World

With 'Alacazam' safely (we hope) tucked up ashore in Antigua, we were having a quiet Sunday-afternoon beer with our pals back home at the Tamar River Sailing Club. We were absently watching a cruising yacht anchoring in front of the club. Soon the crew of two approached us...

"Any chance of a beer and a shower?" they asked.

"Of course, but haven't we met before?" said Mary.

And it turned out we had - just a couple of months previously at a yachties beach bar in Dominica, West Indies. They were fellow Ocean Cruising Club members Mike and Nicki Reynolds on Zen Again from Australia who were on their way around the world.

Burgees were exchanged in the traditional manner - their FYC (Freemantle Yacht Club) for our TRSC one. An amazing coincidence, particularly as they had got here over thousands of miles of ocean and we had arrived courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.

'Zen Again's blog is Zen Again Blogspot.

Happy Returns!

There were two other notable arrivals at the TRSC in July - the diminutive canoe-sterned 'Godot' and the famous 'Jester', both having successfully completed the 2016 Jester Azores Challenge.

'Godot', a Nordica 20 skippered by owner Olivier Delebecque, is currently on her way home to Amsterdam - singlehanded of course!

'Jester' skippered by owner Trevor Leek is a replica of the original yacht of this name which was lost in the Atlantic in 1988.

More on the 'Jester' story...

What's That Boat?

Remember last month's mystery boat? Well, that was identified by Daniel Grenier as a Jeanneau 47. It's from their 'Sun Odyssey' range and was designed by Philippe Briand. Thanks Daniel - a pic of the boat now heads the list of 45' to 50' cruising boats.

Wind Vane Wobbles

Fellow TRSC member Jon Dunsdon tells me about an issue he has with the Auto-Steer trim-tab self-steering gear he has on his 25ft, wood-epoxy Vertue, 'Hippo'.

Jon says...
"The system mostly works very well and I rarely helm the yacht as soon as it is practicable to use the windvane. There is one condition where I find the wind vane doesn't work at all well and that is beating into short chop.

Received wisdom seems to be that wind vanes work well going to windward and have more problems down wind, exactly the opposite of what I experience. In smooth water the system works very well to windward and downwind.

The yacht slows as it hits the cyclical peaks in the short chop and the tiller swings wildly from side to side. The course doesn't change appreciably but the yacht slows markedly. Recently I was out in 20+ knots of wind the boat speed slowed to 3-3.5 knots when I could get 5 -5.5 knots hand steering or touching the tiller to stop it swinging. I tried tying off the tiller and did a steady 5+ knots hands off and on course. This suggests the sail trim is not far off."

Jon suspects the problem's caused by the water velocity reversal after the wave has passed added to the tidal stream is greater than the slowed boat speed causing the tiller to flop around.

He asked me if I had any ideas...

Well, I've not experienced any similar problem with my Aries Servo-Pendulum Gear but it did occur to me that the trim tab could be stalling, quite possibly for the reason he suggests, leading to the interaction of the windvane and the trim tab getting out of synchronization causing the rudder to hunt from side to side.

Or maybe the leading edge of the trim tab should more closely follow the trailing edge of the rudder, the cause of the problem being the turbulence between the two in the situation that Jon describes?

Do you good people have any ideas which might help John find a solution to his windvane wobbles? If so please drop him a line at

This Month's Sailboat Fishing Tip

One of the easiest ways to get a fish interested in the lure you're trolling astern is to use a daisy chain.

A daisy chain is simply a string of hookless lures (three of them in the pic above) rigged together line-astern ahead of your trolling lure.

The hookless lures are known as teasers, and their purpose is to create additional visual attraction and sonic disturbance in the water. The intention is to persuade a curious predator that it’s come across a small shoal of baitfish (the teasers) pursued by a chaser (your lure, the one with the hook) not looking in his rear-view mirror.

It won’t take a great leap of imagination to guess which one’s going to get hit!

The one illustrated is my all-time favourite - a cedar plug daisy chain.

Extremely attractive and robust, it's ideal for the likes of us cruisers.

For more sailboat fishing tips like this one, download my eBook...

Secrets of Sailboat Fishing

Creating a Dripless Stuffing Box

Many thanks to Chris Collins, who submitted the following article...
Modern dripless propeller shaft seals work great, but they can be expensive. If they fail, they cannot be serviced without a haul-out. Some ocean cruisers report this to be a disadvantage, preferring the ability to replace the packing in their stuffing boxes while at sea. I suggest that none of us like having seawater leak into our bilge.

Judikay and I have two sailboats, and I have modified the stuffing box on each to accept marine grease on the seawater side of the packing. Seawater pressure keeps the grease against the packing. The shaft seal in each boat is now dripless and well lubricated.

The cost of the modification was near zero! In my research, I learned this method is common in the UK and nearly unheard of in the US. Note, most automotive grease is soap based and should not be used where it might contact seawater.

The shaft log on our Catalina 30 is fiberglass. Since fiberglass made with polyester resin will absorb moisture, I was concerned about grease being absorbed and weakening the structure. I sanded the inside of the shaft log and then applied multiple coats of epoxy as a barrier coat.

Our ketch has a stainless steel shaft log with the cutless bearing pressed into the outer end of the tube. Greasing the stuffing box also greases the cutless bearing and fills the clearance between the shaft and the bearing. The cutless bearing is normally lubricated with seawater. That works great until the critters plug the intake ports, blocking the seawater. Then both the shaft and cutlass bearing suffer wear from extra friction.

On each boat, I replaced the connecting hose with the extra strong “Buck Algonquin” connecting hose. My jury is still out on how the marine grease will affect the hose. I used stainless steel grease fittings (Zerks) that are threaded with 1/8 NPT. A tap can be obtained at most hardware stores.

I installed the grease fitting as far aft as possible leaving just enough room for a wrench. I keep a spare fitting and a wrench on board. If the adjusting nut should reach the fitting when tightened, I will add more packing.

See the photo below for the location of the grease fitting in the stuffing box.

Our ketch had sat, and does sit for months without the engine running. The previous owner had replaced the propeller shaft, and yet I found it corroded under the packing. This was a classic case of being wet with saltwater and lacking oxygen.

I have learned this is very common when the propeller shaft does not rotate regularly. Our local propeller shop was kind enough to smooth the corroded area so I was able to postpone the expense of replacing the shaft until the next haul out. The resulting recess in the shaft makes it very difficult to install the packing. I don’t recommend the smoothing process if it will create a recess.

My next question was how would greasing the stuffing box cause or prevent shaft corrosion? I contacted Steve D'Antonio of Steve D'Antonio Marine Consulting Inc with just that question. Steve is an expert on stainless steel corrosion. Steve replied back with wonderful and lengthy information including the statement...

"Grease will not promote corrosion on a stainless steel alloy shaft as it excludes both air and water, the latter is needed for crevice corrosion to occur."

If you elect to install a grease fitting in your stuffing box, my suggestions are as follows:

Install a new heavy duty connecting hose, apply epoxy barrier coat to any fiberglass that might come in contact with the grease, and grease the packing as you install it to insure it will be well lubricated when the shaft first rotates.

Use a grease gun to pump as much grease into the shaft log as possible prior to launching - i.e. make an effort to keep saltwater in the sea by filling the shaft log with grease.

For the adjustment process, begin with a pretty loose adjusting nut. Tighten after seeing grease leak from seal. Ultimately, snug the nut so grease is not slung about as the shaft rotates, but not so tight that much heat is created.

The thick grease will create some heat, so expect warm. Too hot to touch would not be acceptable. Use your hand or an infrared thermometer to monitor closely and confirm the stuffing box does not get hot.

Use a grease gun to add marine grease frequently as needed to keep seawater in the sea and out of the shaft log. If this method does not work well for you, simply loosen the adjusting nut and let her drip normal.

Chris Collins owns, sails, and maintains a Catalina 30 on El Dorado Lake in Kansas and a 45 foot ketch in Rockport, Texas.

Used Sailing Gear & Equipment

It's always worth taking a look at what our visitors are getting rid of. Remember one mans junk is another man's gold!

Among other stuff this month, we have a Tasar Sailing Dinghy.

Cruising Boats for Sale

If you're thinking of selling your cruising boat - or know someone who is - remember you can advertise it entirely free of charge on - which is what the owners of these boats have done.

Just click on the pics to see the full details...

'Transcendence' a Cascade 36

'Empress III' a Bavaria 47 Exclusive

'SailAbout', a Unique Pocket Cruiser

'Jack Iron', a Corbin 39 Centre Cockpit Cruiser

Take a look at what other secondhand cruising boats are currently for sale...

Don't forget...

If you're thinking of looking at a secondhand sailboat, or just want to be aware of what to look for - and when to walk away no matter what - then you really ought to take a look at Andrew Simpson's eBook Secrets of Buying Secondhand Boats...

It's full of sound advice from an acknowleged expert and could quite literally save you $$$$$thousands!

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And finally...

If you know anyone who might be interested in the contents of this newsletter, feel free to email it to them. It's not secret!

And this newsletter can be a two-way thing. If you've read anything you'd like to comment on, or perhaps there's an event you'd like to see announced in a future newsletter, then please let me know.

See you next month!

Dick McClary

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