Feb 25, 2013

What's on DD's bookshelf - part II

In the first part of this blog post, we presented some of the more technical and instructional books in Dolphin Dance's library. This second part deals with cruising narratives and inspirational books, that we like to have on board.

1. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

In the summer of 1914, Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton set sail from London towards Southern Ocean. Their plan was to sail first to the Antarctic and then cross the cold continent overland from west to east. However, the journey failed already before Shackleton had reached the Antarctic, since their ship 'Endurance' got stuck in the ice and Shackleton and his crew of twenty seven men, spent over a year drifting with the ice. Eventually, their ship — despite of her name  was crushed by the ice masses, and the expedition spent further five months hunting seals and surviving on the ice packs, before they could launch their smaller life vessels, and set sail again. After they had reached a whaling station on uninhabited Elephant Island, Shackleton took five men and set off aboard life vessel James Caird towards South Georgia, some 700 nautical miles northeast, while rest of the crew was left waiting on the island.

Endurance is a truly amazing survival story in some of the most hostile environments of the world. As this true story took place almost a hundred years ago, there were no GPS-receivers, satellite phones, helicopters or hightech-clothing, which makes the story even more amazing for the 21st century reader. I agree with my father that after reading this book, one's own troubles with boats seem quite small after all... 

2. The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier 

A frenchman Bernard Moitessier took part in the Sunday Times Golden Globe competition held in 1968-1969. Prior to that, no one had ever sailed around the globe single-handed and non-stop.  The Golden Globe trophy would be offered to the first person, who managed to do this voyage unassisted. Contrary to todays sailing competitions, the sailors could choose the time when they wanted to start their voyage from England. Thus, for the late starters there was a catch: the fastest circumnavigator would win the £5000 prize.

Of the nine sailors, who participated in the race, Robin Knox-Johnston was the only one to actually finish it. Four sailors had to give up already before leaving the Atlantic ocean. However, Bernard Moitessier was among the fastest sailors in the race and managed to sail past the three great capes. Having rounded the notorious Cape Horn, he had good chances of winning the prize for the fastest circumnavigator.  He was already in the South Atlantic heading back to the finish line in England, but then suddenly he decided to forfeit the race and alter his course towards the Cape of Good Hope and Indian Ocean. After having been six months alone at the sea, he did not want to return to the modern world, so he actually kept on sailing, beyond the Cape of Good Hope, across the Indian Ocean all the way to the Pacific, before stopping at Tahiti after ten months at the sea. He had sailed one and half times round the globe non-stop! He may have not win the prize for the fastest circumnavigator, but this strange decision made Bernard Moitissier one of the biggest and most mysterious sailing legends of all time.

The Long Way is a diary about Moitessier's journey in the race, which clearly for him, was a spiritual one and more about searching himself and being one with the nature, than winning fame and glory. Moitissier writes beautifully about sailing and about the freedom one can experience at the sea.
"The sheet winches creak, the water murmurs on the bottom as Joshua gathers way and begings to come alive... People who do not know that a sailboat is a living creature will never understand anything about boats and the sea." 

Even though I find Motiessier's story most fascinating, the book is not perhaps among the most compelling sailing books that I have read. I agree with some of the reviews, that the book gets less interesting as it proceeds. For example, one would also expect the book to give a better explanation on Moitessier's decision to keep on sailing, although reunion with his wife and children was just a few weeks away. Besides, writing about daily events at the sea, Moitessier writes about his thoughts on the nature and criticism that he feels towards the modern world, or the machine as he calls it. But the book does not give simple answers to the question above.

The Long Way has a place in our library, since I like to grab it every now and then and just read a page or two. An as it was a few years ago that I read the whole book, I would like to give it a second chance. Well, maybe next season...

3. The Missing Centimetre by Leon Schulz

I think that Leon Schulz's book is a great example, that you do not always have to sail to Antarctic or round the world one and half times non-stop to get an inspiring story. According to the book's back cover, The Missing Centimetre... is a story of an ordinary family, with ordinary sailing experience and a common dream, who, together, achieve something extraordinary." 

The Schulz family decided to take a sabbatical year and do a north Atlantic circuit from Sweden to Caribbean and back. Although only a small proportion of sailors actually cross the Atlantic during their sailing career, the Caribbean tour is a common dream shared by many. The Missing Centimetre is a must-read for someone planning to do long-distance cruising with children. However, it is not just a book for family cruisers; Schulz writes honestly about various aspects affecting the life of a cruising sailor, and does not forget the bad parts. For example, Schulz discusses the difficulty of making the initial decision of leaving the safe shore life behind, and the difficulty of adapting to the ordinary life, after the journey is over. I think that these are interesting topics for all cruising sailors. The that way Schulz writes about the beautiful parts of the cruising sailing life style is very inspiring — therefore, reading the book comes with a risk of getting a bit too inspired.

4. Merikokin Messissä by Sjöholm & Haikala (in Finnish)

Unfortunately, the last (but not the least) two books are only available in Finnish. The first of these is a cooking book for sailors called Merikokin messissä written by Anne & Steffi Sjöholm and Pirjo & Jussi Haikala.

When I (Minna) started sailing, I found this book very helpful. The book namely presents both useful information and tips for cooking good food onboard. The book has separate chapters about what kind of food one could pack for a sailing trip and how one should always be prepared in time to be able to cook onboard. The book is written by experienced cruising sailors who understand the limitations of cooking in the boat's small moving galley. There is a variety of dishes which can be easily prepared when sailing but there are also recipes suitable for dinner moments on a sheltered anchorage. And what we like about the recipes of this book is that they take into account what kind of ingredients are (and are not) freshly available on the islands and small villages by the sea.

This book also represents the attitude that we also have about sailing and food: the food should be good and healthy, since it keeps everyone happy, content and smiling!

5. Seikkailun Suolainen Maku by Kari Nurmi & Matti Murto (in Finnish)

Seikkailun Suolainen Maku is a story about a young Finnish skipper Kari Nurmi, sailing with a small boat "Ruffe" across the Atlantic ocean. This book was published a couple of years ago, but the three journeys, described in the book, took place actually in the early 90's.

The book starts off with the chapter "The Dream", in which Nurmi writes about his passion for the sea and sail boats. At the age of twenty he bought his first keelboat, a brand new Bavaria 300. During the first complete season, Nurmi sailed with a friend to Kiel and back. In the second season, Ruffe sailed already out of the Baltic Sea region: an amazing journey took the young crew to Ireland, Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands and Norway. However, the skipper's hunger to explore more was not fulfilled yet, since the plans for the third season were placed even higher: Nurmi and his crew would participate in the America 500 Columbus anniversary race from Portugal (via Canaries) to Bahamas.

In general, inspiring sailing books, such as Seikkailun Suolainen Maku or The Missing Centimetre, offer a great escape during the long winter. Furthermore, both of these books also cover some familiar places in the Baltics, Denmark and Norway, which made the reading even more interesting  also during the season, while visiting some of these places. Even if sailing to Caribbean with own boat is currently beyond our scope, both of these books deal with subjects and feelings, that many cruising sailors can identify with.
/Antti & Minna

Feb 20, 2013

Winter in the Archipelago

Every season has its own charm in the archipelago. That said, I am especially fond of the early spring when one starts to see, that day is finally getting longer. And usually in late February/early March weather often turns sunnier but is still cold enough for winter sports. And it is always a special feeling to go skiing the same waterways, that you will be navigating just a few months later. 

Icecap is still thin at some places. View from Vartsala ferry dock. 

Feb 18, 2013

Refit project: Water in the keel!

Last December, when blogging about our maintenance schedule for this winter, I wrote that most probably new things will come up, once we start digging deeper.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be too true  we recently found out that there is water inside DD's keel! However, this unpleasant finding was not totally unexpected, since last spring, I noticed some condensation on certain areas on the keel when the air temperature was close to zero. I noted down those areas, but I did not want to speculate it too much then: further investigation would have involved drilling holes into the keel, since the moisture meter is not reliable in the keel area. As the sailing season was just round the corner, I decided to leave further investigation for this winter.

The reason for the mysterious condensation became more obvious, when I took a closer look of the bilge: the back corner was looking suspicious since it stayed wet, even if I had dried it just a few days earlier. Furthermore, I found out that a part of the topcoat was missing in the back corner of the bilge. I am not sure if this defect has been there since new, but it was really difficult to spot, since the bilge pump hose was blocking the vision. Only when I lifted the hose, I could get a proper view of the whole bilge sump. Over the years, there has probably been some bilge water standing there. This is the negative side of having a very deep bilge: the bottom of the sump is difficult to reach and the pump, or even the drain plug, does not dry the far end of the bilge. The water in the bilge has probably, over a very long period of time, seeped into the keel.

To investigate this issue further, Jarkko Marsh (from Airisto Marine Oy), drilled a few holes in those suspect areas, which I had noted down last spring. The first drill did not reveal anything other than bone dry laminate and filler. Therefore, the second drill was aimed at a bit lower spot, and this time some water was leaking out from the hole. We decided to drill more holes into the keel in order to get all the water out. The good news is that, there is no iron ballast under the bilge sump, but some kind of putty which is used as a filler. If iron would come in contact with water, it would start to rust and expand, which would have probably damaged the fiberglass as well.

At first, Jarkko set up a vet vacuum machine to the holes to get the most of the water out. After this was completed, he set up his HotVac-pads on the keel. To my knowledge, the HotVac Hull Cure is the most advanced method of drying up fiberglass laminate and it is used widely in osmosis repairs for example. The HotVac pad applies controlled, uniform heat and high vacuum to the affected area. This treatment should also get DD's keel completely dry. After the treatment, the holes will be filled and re-laminated, and the bilge re-coated. I will report about the progress of this repair later in the spring. 

In general, an internal ballast/encapsulated keel structure, used for example in all Enderlein's HR-designs, is a strong and almost maintenance-free structure  as long as the water stays out. But the fun part begins when water is added into the soup. Most often, this might happen if the keel is poorly repaired after a grounding. However, also the bilge water may over the time leak into the keel, since after all, the topcoat in the bilge is not totally waterproof. Therefore, in my opinion, the bilge should have been initially coated with epoxy and not with topcoat. However, a larger leak would require some sort of damage to the topcoat layer (e.g. cracks, missing topcoat or leaking screwholes etc.). In general, keeping the bilge dry is a good idea for any boat, but I think that it is especially advisable for boats with an encapsulated keel. 

Water leaking out from the lower hole

HotVac pad installed to the affected area.

The pad applies controlled heat and high vacuum 

      DD was lifted up a bit and is now supported from the hull, so the keel is hanging free. This makes it possible to apply new barrier coat also to the underside of the keel. 

Feb 13, 2013

Maintenance update: servicing the self-tailing winches

Servicing the winches is something that I have been putting off for too long. During the last few springs, I have often been too busy with other tasks at hand, and during the autumn, just too lazy. And on the other hand, during the sailing season, I didn't want to start disassembling and messing with something that is working well. However, on one of the last trips of the previous season, the starboard winch started making a whining noise  like it was saying that we should take better care of it!

The best time for servicing the winches is while the boat is on the hard  just in case, you happen to drop something. I was actually somewhat worried, that when opening the winch, the cogwheels and springs would just 'explode' at my hands. However, fortunately the Lewmar winch is very cleverly designed: it is very maintenance friendly and also idiot-proof  you really cannot reassemble it in a wrong way. Thus, with some extra-care, winches can be easily serviced also during the season.

After I had disassembled the winch, I cleaned the  parts from old grease and dirt. I used some diesel and cloth for de-greasing. Then the parts were re-greased. However, the pawls and springs were only treated with some machine oil, since greasing could cause them to stick.

I used CRC super-adhesive grease for re-greasing. There is also some specific grease available for winches. However, I do not know, what is the difference apart from the price. All in all, it is important to not to use too much grease, since this could find its way to the pawls. When disassembling the port winch, I noticed that one spring (holding the pawl) was broken. So I bought a spares kit by Lewmar, and decided to change also other springs at the same time.

Here is a very informative video of servicing a Lewmar Ocean series winch:
(thanks for http://seglingarlivet.blogspot.se/ for this video tip)

Next on the agenda are the halyard winches, and then, later at spring, the reefing winch on the mast (when the weather gets a bit warmer for working outside). Servicing winches is actually quite an easy task, but it takes some time and patience. Perhaps, the most time-consuming part is the cleaning stage, but on the other hand, when you repeat it more often, there is also less cleaning to do. We will do this job annually in the future.

I used an old tootbrush for cleaning and re-greasing

First cleaning all the parts with some diesel.

Greasing the gears by rotating the winch handle

Then it is time to reassemble the winch and test it...and figure out what to do with all the parts that were left over.

Feb 10, 2013

Helsinki International Boat Show 2013

On Saturday, we visited the Helsinki International Boat Show. Sailing is the main theme of this year's event, and therefore, at least from a sailor's point of view, the program is perhaps the most interesting for years. Even to the extent, that on Saturday there were some interesting presentations going on at the same. On the other hand, I have not seen the sail boat exhibition hall ever so empty, as there were fewer sail boats at the show than during the previous years. This is of course due to the economic downturn, which is hammering the boating industry.

Merikarhut Ry had organized a top class speaker on this year's event as, on Saturday, Peter Bruce held a lecture on heavy weather sailing. Bruce is the author/editor of the last three editions of the famous storm survival bible Heavy Weather Sailing. He gained wide experience on seagoing in extreme conditions during his navy years. He also participated and finished in the infamous Fastnet Race 1979, on which he shared an interesting story on Saturday — as an answer to a question on the worst situation, he has encountered.

The one and half hours' presentation followed pretty much the same structure as the book has. However, the scope was limited to the monohull sailing yachts. It was interesting to see, that although Bruce has a vast experience on sail racing and has for example been twice a member of a winning Admiral's Cup team, his views on sail boat design were rather conservative. At least he pointed out the benefits of the traditional hull shape in terms of seaworthiness, stability and comfortable motion.

A lot of interesting practical information was presented on the lecture. For example, Bruce talked about breaking waves, using drogues and sea-anchors, heaving-to -method, securing the liferaft, setting storm sails etc. He also made an interesting point on avoiding breaking the boom in bad weather: the preventer should always be fitted on the far end of the boom. When the boat heels strongly, the boom may hit the waves with a huge amount of strength. If the preventer is attached to a point in the middle of the boom, this may cause it to break. He also described his preventer arrangement, which consists of short rope 'permanently' attached to the far end of the boom. When not in use, the other end of the rope is secured to the point where the kicker is attached. With this arrangement, the preventer can be easily deployed (by lengthening it with a longer rope) also in a bad weather. We will definitely set-up a similar kind of arrangement next season.

Below are some photos from the boat show:

 One of the finest yachts in the show: Saare 41 AC

Saare 41

The cockpit of the First 30 is open, and mainsheet traveler is fitted on the transom beam. 

Flush decked Swan 39 Racing was in production between 1978 - 1979.  

Nauticat 37 was one of the pearls on the show. Beautiful craftsmanship throughout the boat.

Nauticat is a one of the few manufactures to use solid fiberglass even on the deck. Actually, there is no cored fiberglass structure anywhere on the boat.  

The plotter stand/cockpit table in the new Hanse 345 is stylish, but I would be worried about the sharp corners...

Garmin iPad app makes it possible for example to make a route with an iPad and then wirelessly transfer it to the Garmin's chartplotter. Unfortunately, it does not work with our olded Garmin plotter. 

Feb 7, 2013

Maintenance update: cleaning behind the wooden strips!

Earlier in autumn, we got a good practical tip from a fellow HR 29 sailor to remove the mahogany strips on the sides of the saloon berth and fore peak to clean the top coated fiberglass wall from dust and dirt.

We started to tackle this issue a few weeks ago and found out, that it is surprisingly time-consuming job to unscrew the strips, clean the stubborn dirt and screw the strips back again. However, it is a job that needs to be done from time to time: immidiately when we took out the first strip, we noticed that the white top coat was almost black from all the dust and dirt, that had been collecting there over the years. I guess that during the 22 years of service, this was the first time that the strips were actually removed. Furthermore, the solid fiberglass hull tends to condensate a lot especially at spring and early summer. And although the wooden strips are very practical in keeping the condensation away from the living quarters, all the dust and dirt gets dampen from time to time, which is not particularly a good thing, if you want to keep your boat smelling fresh!

We actually ended up removing every other mahogany strip to save some time and effort. However, I do not know if this was a good idea after all, since cleaning the area under the remaining strips was more difficult and took some additional time.

Now that the job is complete, I can say that it was definitely worth doing. So if you own a boat with a similar kind of structure, I think that it may be a good idea to remove first just a couple of strips to check, how the hidden surface looks behind the strips!

Before screwing back the strips, the top coat and wooden surfaces were wiped with some vinegar.

Feb 4, 2013

Video for Meri Kutsuu/Down By the Sea

I have been making sailing videos since 2006, when I bought my first digital video camera. Perhaps, some of our newer projects might be familiar to you through this blog. As filming and editing is something that I like to do very much, I was very pleased to make a commercial video for the Meri Kutsuu/Down By the Sea -boating fair which is held in Turku in 8.-10.3.2013.

The music in this video   as in most of our sailing videos  is composed by my brother, Pekka Laine.

Check it out!

Link to the YouTube-video