Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winch wires

Pulling the boat out the other day I noted that the trailer winch wire was looking tired and that in spite of my administering medication in the form of putting it in a bath of oil it was not going to last much longer.
Getting a new one jumped to the top of the list, a broken wire when trying to retrieve the boat after a days sailing takes the edge of the experience so last friday I went off to town intending to get one of the synthetic ones.
Went to Rollos Marine in Te Rapa, asked the supercilous snit at the counter for a trailer winch rope and was shown a selection of bright orange ropes in shiny packages with nice printed card tops. They looked nice but the price for the one I wanted was just over eighty dollars!  ( I bet Peter Nobbs the manufacturer doesnt get much  of that!)
I picked myself up off the floor and asked if he had any of the traditional galvanised wire ones, and was told "Oh, nobody uses those anymore, we dont carry them."
Well, I was out the door like my wallet was on fire, and went a couple of hundred yards down the road to Steel and Tube ropes and rigging shop. These guys do commercial and forestry rigging, crane ropes and all that sort of stuff.  A very obliging gent handed me a high viz vest, took me out to where a big cheerful guy was busy doing braid to chain splices and showed me the rack of cable.  I picked the 4mm one, told him 7metres and in a jif it was out, cut, and in the press having a hard thimble fitted.
The 4mm is a light rope, but my experience is that the heavier wires dont do well when wrapped around the relatively small winch drum, but it has a breaking strain of about 850 kg, and a working load equivalent to just over half the weight of the boat and I'm not that strong on the winch.
$10.20 inc GST.!  And a pleasant experience to boot!  For sure the wire wont last as well as the synthetic rope, but I think that I can buy that synthetic rope when next I am at Quality Equipment from whom I buy most of my "string".
In the meantime, for about a dozen launchings a year the wire will last for a while. I  know where I'll go next time!

So the job this afternoon is to take the old winch off and put it aside, its handle tends to come off when the load is on which could be risky and I've a spare which has a better handle arrangement and a slightly lower 'low gear" which is helpful in dragging the wee boat up onto the trailer.

One handle is on one shaft giving direct drive for quick winding up, and the other one on the reduction for a slow and powerful pull.  My rough arithmetic tells me that I can get about a 300 kg pull on this which is slightly better than the old winch which had less reduction and handles that tended to walk off the end of the shaft when winding under load ( ouch!)

I'll soak the new wire rope for a while in mildly warmed oil before fitting it, (  Puts the patch on one eye and dons the fake wooden leg " I'll boil ee in oil harrghharrrgh!"  ) and it will be all ready for thursday when I'm hoping to take her out and sail to try a couple of mods to the rig.

John Welsford

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The galley stove

When I found the little space for the stove, and the lovely little kerosene ( paraffin you Brits) stove that came with the boat I was very pleased, the galley is essentially a drawer which slides in under the cockpit and which is drawn out and opened to make a bench with stove space, a big stainless steel bowl for a basin, and enough space for some of the cooking utensils.
The stove though needed some small repairs, screw threads redrilled and tapped, new screws made up and  replacements for the jet and the pump piston.  It leaks a little too and the smell of kerosene is not nice, especially in a confined space.

I had not the time to repair the stove before I took May out cruising for the first time, so grabbed my spare camp stove.

Now,the story behind that is as follows.  I'd seen David Perillos stove in his pics here  ( watch the video about the egg and oyster omelet ) and wondered how it performed. Knowing that Dave is keen on his food I figured that it would be reasonable.
Next, I am a member of a customer rewards program called Fly Buys which offers prizes for points gained by spending with participating retailers. I had a few points about ready to expire, and noted a "Stainless steel camping stove" in the catalogue, other than the change of metals  it looked essentially the same as the one David P uses, so I ordered it.

Before heading out in May I tried it, only to make a cup of tea and you can see that in one of the early posts, it fits reasonably well into the space provided, leaving access to the burner control on the left hand side, and seemed to be fine.
The cartridges though are only 220 gr, about the size of a standard fly spray can, so when I spotted them on sale price I bought a heap .
$10 50 NZ  ( about $8 00 US) for three. I got 6.

Away we went, and the first meal was a canned stew with rice. No problem, the can had the top off and the paper removed, then washed, and it was stood up in the middle of the pot ( one burner here remember) among the rice.  By the time one was ready so was the other and the meal, with wholemeal bread and butter and an orange for dessert, was fine. I could get fat on that.

So went the 5 days, frequent cups of tea, some while on the move, some hot water for washing dishes, some for washing me, cooking meals and toast for snacks, and it performed fine. The burner has a built in lighter, the pot support is large and solid, the base is wide and stable, the burner control is accurate and easy to adjust, and the heat very good.

I've been over it carefully since, used a magnet to see just how much of it is stainless steel, and had a good look to see what quality it is.
Verdict?  Some small fastenings and a spring are ferrous metal so could be expected to eventally rust away, but it would not be difficult to replace those. Its well put together, well designed, has good features including a pretty good carry case. Its easily cleaned, looks good, the burner control is well away from things that burn hands,its controllable,  it can put out a lot of heat, and it cooks as good a meal as the cook is capable of.
Downers?  Maybe, but only maybe the cartridges could be bigger.  Bank on using one every two days, or less if you are cooking for the gang, but they are cheap and easy to carry, easy to replace and the're no big deal.  Just dont run out OK?

I saw one of these in a shop the other day, NZ$85,  thats about US$65.
Pretty reasonable value.

John Welsford

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

As I left the marina the wind, which had been in the east, died away completely, the little wind we had was only as a result of the tide moving us through the air but it was enough to give steerage way in the narrow channel. You can see Westpark Marina off in the distance, I'd be back in 5 days.

Aucklands upper harbour has some interesting sights, this is an old coastal patrol boat, I think it was used for a long time as a fisheries patrol vessel.  Its in pretty good shape and is obviously being well cared for.

Coming around Kauri Point the wind is very gradually picking up, and there is the first view of the central city and the harbour bridge.  From here I could see the smoke from a cruise liners gensets, and watch the plume which gave me early warning of the several wind changes that came during the afternoon.

In Islington Bay, its blowing pretty hard out there but when I took this pic it was wonderfully sheltered in the anchorage, but it didnt stay that way for long.  A few hours later the torrential rain was going past the ports pretty much horizontally.
Still, it was a nice sunset.

Away Cruising

Away cruising.  Episode one. 
Auckland Anniversary weekend,  I’d planned on being away for 5 nights, from January 27th  until the following Tuesday.  The Mahurangi Regatta is held on the Saturday and my aim was to sail part way on Thursday, make it up there on Friday and spend the weekend in the area, making my way back to within  easy range of the marina where I’d left the car on Monday so I’d not be late home.
The forecast was for really foul weather, there were the remains of two tropical cyclones on their way to northern New Zealand and it looked as though they’d join up just as they came ashore.  The water temperature here at our latitude is such that those storms don’t normally continue as cyclones but degenerate into moderate storms, and generally die away pretty quickly without the heat input of tropical water temperatures to fuel them . I figured that if I got launched and away early in the afternoon on the Thursday, then made a beeline for the shelter of Islington Bay I’d be ok If you go to Google Earth and type in Islington Bay Rangitoto Island New Zealand you’ll get a view of where I was heading.  Zoom back out and you’ll see Aucklands Waitemata Harbour ( Auckland has two harbours, the other one being the Manukau which is not nearly as popular or as heavily used due to a nasty bar at its entrance and vast shallow areas that dry at low tide).
I was leaving from Westpark Marina at Hobsonville if you are doing the Google earth thing to see where I was.
From there it was about a 25 mile run to Islington Bay, my destination for the night, but if the weather were not helpful there were several alternative anchorages  along the way so it was worth the try.
Friend John Wicks met me at the boatramp, he lives on board there at the marina and is an honorary marina warden  so in addition to being good company and someone I’d not seen for a while he’s a good guy to know.
We got “May” rigged and with some pushing and shoving got her launched, and after a cup of tea with John and a tour of his new home (He’s just exchanged a big ketch for a much more easily managed 36ft motor launch) I motored out into a very calm afternoon.
The upper harbour is nice, the slopes of the northern side all covered in bush so the area doesn’t feel like the middle of the city that it really is, and as we motored out the breeze dropped to pretty much nothing.  I figured that there was a change in wind direction coming so was not concerned when the only breeze was the tide moving me through the air.

There are ferries all over this harbour now, and they buzz past as though you’re on a road,  the skippers are good though and give little sailing boats lots of space but the wakes still bounce you around.
The breeze gradually filled in, and with the outgoing tide lifting me to windward May felt like a super boat as she pointed really high and the land went past at a very satisfying rate.  We sailed past Kauri Point where the Defence Dept magazine is, then the Chelsea sugar works and on under the harbour bridge,  as the wharves in downtown Auckland came into view I was watching the smoke from a cruise liners on board generators ( lots of it, someone wasn’t doing it right) and noted that the wind was still swinging and appeared to be strengthening rapidly, and as I sailed out past Devonport and North Head we were really moving along.
“ Note to self, don’t forget to drill the holes, fit the new cleats and run the reefing lines,”  I’d been busy on so many small jobs that I’d not done that one, and figured that if it came to the worst I could sail under jib alone just to make shelter.
Downwind in a gaff rigged boat can be problematic, the big main out to one side will often cause the boat to round up and this had been an issue in the past, but I’d moved a lot of weight aft and was pleased to find that although she needed a firm hand she was tracking much better.
Off across the channel, past 7 buoy, then 14, and across to the rocky shore of Rangitoto, the volcanic cone looking somber in the cloudy afternoon, and along the shore out of the path of the giant twin hulled 25 knot ferries and their big square waved wake.  We were getting close to the boats limit with no reef in, and as I got to the mouth of Islington bay we were surfing more than a little so I decided that it would be prudent to round up and tack rather than gybe her.
Much to my surprise the little boat coasted through the tack without having to harden up and sail on the wind first, she’s noticeably heavier than most 18 footers (about a ton) so carries her way better than most boats her size.  We sailed on into “Isy Bay” looking for a sheltered spot that would be ok when the wind went around to the east as forecast.
Being of relatively shallow draft we could anchor inside most of the bigger boats, and I was minded to do that as the holding in this very popular anchorage is not so good being light mud over a hard bottom and I’d not tried either of the anchors that the boat had come with.
I sailed in quietly, right to the end of the inlet, I’d not been here in many years and it felt like coming home. Wonderful place, the great, dark, brooding bush clad mountain on one side and the farm park of Motutapu Island on the other making an interesting visual contrast.  I figured that I could anchor in a gap between two other boats about 100m from the shallow reef at the far end so sailed on past them, tacked and backed the jib while  getting the Danforth type anchor out of the cockpit locker.
Got anchored, about 10 m of chain on the 10S sized Manson copy, I sailed her away from the anchor a little and snubbed the warp on the big samson post  to set it, dropped the jib, then the main and tidied up. 
“Nother note to self, need chocks on the foredeck so I can stow one anchor and warp up there, it’s a battle to get everything out of the cockpit and up on the foredeck, warp and chain threaded through fairleads and around whisker and bobstays while under way”.
About 20 boats in the anchorage, normally at this time of year there would be three or four times that, but the weather forecast was scary so I was not surprised.
Got the kettle on the stove, put a harbour furl on the main and jib, and mug of tea in hand just sat and looked around.
We’re here!
John Welsford, aboard the good ship “May”.