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The Sailboat Cruiser ~ Issue #32
October 26, 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 #32 - October 2016

What's in This Issue:

Beware of Boatyard Hosepipes!

There was a bit of a scare story recently in the UK yachting press regarding the risk of using boatyard hosepipes to top up your water tanks.

Left laying around on the ground as they often are, all sorts of nasty liquids and micro-organisms can find their way into the hose, intent on contaminating the water before you squirt it into your drinking water tanks.

Some marinas and boatyards are incorporating back-flow devices into the hose to lessen the risk of contamination, whilst others are just removing the hoses all together.

Either way, you may well decide that the best solution is to disconnect the boatyard hose (if there is one) and use your own.

Watermakers: Friend or Foe?

If you've got a watermaker in your boat, then the previous article might leave you feeling pretty smug - and if you haven't, it might encourage you to rush out and buy one.

But hold on a minute, as once you've got one you're stuck with it, and you'd better maintain it properly and use it regularly' or it will die and require treatment both expensive and intensive to bring it back to life.

I know this because I've got one. Just a small one which makes about 1.5 gallons/hour and draws 4amps while it's doing so. Even so it was expensive to buy - larger capacity units are very expensive.

Ideal for us, I thought, with just the two of us aboard. But now, I'm not so sure...

  • Before you divert the product water into your tanks you have to run it for a while to make sure that the water is of drinkable quality. Fail to do this properly, or have the diverter valve switched the wrong way (yes, I've done just that) and you'll pollute the water in your tank, which is not what you need. An all-round lose/lose result;
  • It's an irritatingly noisy beast. Our's sounds like the bleating of a distant goat;
  • If there's insufficient wind or sun to produce the power to drive it, you'll need to use the engine. Having the engine running at tick-over for a couple of hours doesn't do it a lot of good, and isn't an environmentally efficient method of converting diesel fuel into water!
  • We cruise in the Caribbean where, contrary to what the holiday brochures suggest, it rains. A sudden tropical squall, provided you see it coming and can get your raincatching gear set up in time, will produce far more than 1.5 gallons/hour;
  • Where a watermaker really does make sense is when you're motoring. Not only are you getting 'free' water, the engine noise covers up that darn goat!

Read more about watermakers and raincatchers...

Something Would Have To Be Done...

When Mary and I were planning our first Atlantic crossing it occurred to us that this might be a very good time to make a Last Will & Testament, just in case. One of us, I can't remember who, said

"What would happen if one of us died halfway across the Atlantic?"

It was a good question. A low probability of occurrence perhaps, but a very high impact if it did. A real risk nevertheless, and one which would have to be considered along with all the others.

We both agreed that the prospect of a rapidly decomposing corpse flopping around on the boat in the tropical heat was neither attractive or acceptable; something would have to be done.

This is what we came up with...

  • Record the event along with all subsequent related events in the log, a Ship's Log being a legal document. Maybe take a few photographs too, as further evidence of the circumstances surrounding the event.

    After all, the Immigration Officer at our port of arrival would probably be a bit put out at the sight of a half-depleted crew standing forlornly before him, and might want to ask a few questions.

  • Put out a MayDay asking for advice and assistance. We understood that with VHF being our only means of communication, it was unlikely that our call would be heard.
  • Drag the corpse into the cockpit, say a few nice words to appease Whoever might be listening and then - over the side it goes.

After all, the Ocean's not a bad last resting place for a sailor.

Well? What would you do?

Incidentally, our agreement had an unforeseen benefit - Mary was on her very best behavior all the way across.

You can read all about it in Mary's eBook 'First Time Atlantic Crossing'.

Individual LED Navigation Lights?

Continuing in the vein of having done something I thought was pretty smart at the time which I now think wasn't quite so clever after all, I arrive at the subject of LED navigation lights.

Not being overjoyed at the prospect of climbing the mast to replace failed nav light bulbs, I bought a LED combined tricolour/anchor light for installation at the masthead.

It's been a great success - it has never failed and draws very little juice from the battery, but I've left the pulpit and pushpit bow and stern lights with incandescent bulbs because:

  • I only use them when we're motoring, and

  • They're easily accessible when a bulb fails.

But, and here's the point, why bother with a tri-colour at all?

Individual LED port, starboard and stern lights only draw a couple of watts apiece, so with all three on they'd only take half an amp in a 12volt system - even less if the bow light was a bi-colour.

Surely, that would have been the smarter way to go?

Lines at the Mast or in the Cockpit?

I've recently added a couple more articles on the website - Running Rigging and Selecting Winches and Jammers.

Writing them took me back to the agonising we went through when building Alacazam over whether to bring all the sheets, halyards and other control lines back to the cockpit, or leave a number of them at the mast.

Because Alacazam was to be a cutter, there were quite a few lines that would have to be dealt with by the cockpit winches:~

  • Mainsheet;
  • Mainsheet car lines;
  • Kicker;
  • Foresail sheets;
  • Foresail furling line;
  • Staysail sheets;
  • Assymetric spinaker sheets;
  • Assmetric tackline
  • Runners:

That gives us 14 lines to play with in the cockpit, leaving the following which could either be left at the mast or brought back to the cockpit:~

  • Jib halyard 1;
  • Jib halyard 2 (a spare, and for setting twin headsails);
  • Staysail halyard;
  • Spinnaker halyard;
  • Main halyard;
  • Topping lift;
  • Main outhaul;
  • Reefing lines (first, second and third);
  • Pole uphaul;
  • Pole downhaul;

If that lot all ended up in the cockpit, it would become a snake pit. Clearly some of it would have to remain at the mast. Here's how we sorted it all out.

Mainsail lines

It not difficult to see the benefit in be able to reef the main from the cockpit, but to do so the following lines would need to be brought back:~

  • Main halyard;
  • Topping lift;
  • Reefing lines (first, second and third);

But that would still mean that someone would have to go forward to hook on the luff reefing cringles. Well, if you're going to do that you might as well do all the mainsail reefing at the mast - I'm an all-or-nothing sort of bloke - and before you ask, I'm not a huge fan of either single-line or in-mast/in-boom reefing systems.

The solution it seemed, was to bring three more lines back to the cockpit which would pull down each of the luff reefing points.

So, 8 more lines to be brought back to the cockpit to reef the main. Our 14 cockpit lines would increase to 22.

We looked at the others:~

  • Jib halyards;
  • Staysail halyard;
  • Spinnaker halyard;
  • Pole uphaul;
  • Pole downhaul;

The other halyards

With the headsail on a furler, the jib halyard would only be adjusted at the beginning and end of a passage. The second jib halyard would spend most of its life unused, so there was little benefit in bringing these back.

The staysail is hanked on and needs to be pulled down by hand when the halyard is let go. That too can stay at the mast then.

Hoisting the kite requires a degree of foredeck work - attaching the clew and halyard, dealing with the snuffer etc - so there's little point in having its halyard anywhere other than at the mast.

The pole has to be attached to the mast, so its uphaul and downhaul are also best left at the mast.

We liked the idea of reefing the main from the cockpit, but we'd need to fit a number of turning blocks, organisers and jammers to enable us to do so.

In the end we decided to leave it all at the mast, where it works just fine. But the stronger the wind blows and the older I get the more of a challenge reefing the main becomes.

So do I regret leaving it all at the mast? Sometimes.

Am I thinking about bring it back to the cockpit? Well, maybe.

It's That Time of the Year Again!

Unless you're lucky enough to keep your boat someplace where you can sail all year around, you're going to face the annual chore of hauling out and laying her up ashore for the winter months.

If your cruising ground is in the higher latitudes then you'll probably want to haul your boat out during the autumn to avoid the rigours of the winter weather.

In tropical regions it's not snow and ice you need to worry about; it's much worse - hurricanes, or depending on your location, cyclones or typhoons.

These malevolent monsters can occur during the summer and autumn months, so the prudent boater will looking to haul out in late spring.

Either way, your first concern will be in having your boat hauled out of the water safely and without damage, but there are a couple of things to attend to first...


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 items this month, we have:

  • a Load of Sailing Books;
  • a Storm Jib;
  • a Hasler Windvane Self-Steering Gear;
  • a Harken Mk3 Furling Gear;

Take a look at them by clicking here...

And Lee Laurie tells me he's wanting to buy a spinnaker pole and/or a Whisker pole for a 44ft sailboat. Lee's currently in Grenada and will be heading to Panama late January/beginning February.

Please contact Lee here...

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...

  • 'Malolo', a PDQ 36 catamaran;
  • 'Puff-On', a Tartan 33;
  • 'Lone Star Love', a Stamas 44;
  • A Pearson 38;

Want to check out a whole load more? Then take a look at the full list secondhand cruising boats 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!

More 'Likes' Please has a Facebook Page!

Clicking the image here will take you right to it, where you can browse through many more posts and articles.

Please take a look, and feel free to make a post - and don't forget to 'Like' us of course...


Visit's Facebook Page...

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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