Wednesday, January 11, 2017

waterline, weather and leather

There are dozens of reasons why a trailered boat shouldn't wear antifouling below the waterline, and I have chosen to do it anyway  now I'm in  a situation where I can sail often because the boat can spend weeks in the water if I wish. The bliss of this is not lost on me.

Whereas before we moved here a sailing day needed to be chosen carefully, planned for and then travelled to- with the possibility that the morning could be wasted if the weather was ordinary (or worse)- now if I get the weather wrong, I can be much more philosophical about it, and maybe treat myself to some uncomfortable lessons in the wrong conditions, and then take my little tail home for comfort, without getting in the car.

So she has had the business- black antifouling below the waterline after I scraped the growth from her bottom again (not a comfortable thing to do on a bottom that is so horizontal, and so close to the ground). The pleasure for me this time was to figure out a way of getting Annie off her trailer without lifting anything. This was all achieved with a few clamps, a pair of saw horses, a few boards and a horizontal platform.

The trick is to lower the trailer dolly wheel, which lifts the stern. Slide in an angled support just under the stern, then raise the dolly again- on a block of wood if necessary- then place some support across the front (a 4 x 2 on edge, or bigger) on saw horses spread wide enough to clear the trailer wheels. Lower the dolly and then move the trailer forward, under the beam and out of the way. For this trailer anyway, the beds were now well clear of the hull. Your back is spared, but do be careful if you try this. I always add a couple of fail-safe back-up braces and supports before working under the boat.

Last time I went out the wind was up and threatening but the forecast was for it to ease so I had an interesting sail under mizzen and jib for an hour or so, and was quite pleased with her handling and tacking in those conditions. The wind then turned and made a part of the bay very rough and messy and another part more sheltered, so I raised the main without a reef and had a great couple of hours reaching back and forth over a longish gap between Bell Point and Shaving Point in a fresh wind on a rolling swell. To keep the boat level and just because it felt good, I sat out and sheeted in for  an exciting ride. 

The Navigator can usually be sailed without hiking out (especially if sail is shortened to suit conditions) and so the extension is a discretionary tool really....but I like it. This was my longest period using the tiller extension and it worked a treat, but my sweaty palms eventually began to struggle a bit on the bare wood.

Because the extension often needs to be out of service I designed it to sit low over the curve of the tiller so as not to get in the way, and it sits on a little locating pin so as to stay put. Both the tiller and extension flair out slightly towards the ends and this makes gripping easy, but I've added some leather on the extension just to make it less slippery.                                       I considered thin line, servings, turks head knot work etc and couldn't find a rope work solution that fit my purpose, but finally settled on leather because this is the traditional technique I used to replace the leather grip on violin etc bows. It feels good, looks restrained and doesn't add much to the bulkiness of the rod. The edges are rounded over so sit tight on the timber by means of a cut bevel on all four edges. This is done with a razor sharp chisel on the inside face of the leather. The leather was then treated with a product called Dubbin- used here in the past for treating boots etc without adding colour.


  1. Hi Robert. I have a Drascombe Dabber and occasionally I have removed it from the trailer as you suggest here. However removing fouling and applying anti foul is a horrible job when you are lying underneath. Much easier to do what we tend to do - just drop the boat, with mast rigged, on the ground ie just "launch"and pull the trailer out on grass or even concrete, put tyres underneath if you are bothered about small scratches on the keel. Now pull the boat over on its side using the mast - yeah that seems dubious, but you are not subjecting it to any more stress than you would while sailing. Again have tyres or old carpet under it if you want. Removing the crud and applying anti foul or paint while standing above or beside is so much easier. Of course it has to be flipped over a day or two later to do the other half, but really compared to crud in your eyes and mouth, the sore back, the swearing etc. this way is much easier.
    Regards, P@

  2. Thanks for your input on this, and just for stopping by. You are so right about the joys of painting and scraping from below. The last clean up we did was with my son when we beached her and tipped her over for a scrub one of us on the mast and one with the scraper. I tried a couple of weeks later to do the same thing alone, but it would have had to be a proper wet capsize so I motored back home. Navigator is very beamy and stable and the two of us managed it only by having her in the water. It all worked fine because it takes very little water on its side, but the stuff that got in was all sandy and full of sediment, so I then had to clean her thoroughly any way. I don't have help most of the time and our land is a bit challenged for flattish clear spaces too, so I decided just to get down and dirty. I know I can pull her over with tackle alone- I did all that when she was being built. I used blocks and line, and hay bales for padding. The work under the boat is mucky, but being near the tools and upright meant I could do a little often, rather than make a big job of it. Great to hear from you and thanks again for your input.