HMPE rigging

When I took Gilgarran under my wing her standing rigging was still in a good condition and still is. The only problem, though, is that the stainless cables are a bit short. The previous owner “fixed” this by extending it’s length using several interlocked shackles. Obviously, I don’t feel too good about this.

Last year I got a quote from the best rigging shop is Cape Town to replace all the stainless wire and swages. The price wasn’t too bad, but in true DIY fashion I think I can do it much cheaper.

Enter HMPE or Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene better known as Dyneema.

Dyneema is fairly cheap in Cape Town as it is produced here by a company called Southern Ropes. It is also much stronger than stainless and easier to work with. The only down side, as I see it, is chafe.

Stainless steel corrode and dyneema chafes. I feel much more comfortable being able to see a line chafe than not being able to see stainless corrode within the swage. Nonetheless, it is critical to minimise chafe as much as possible. So I started looking at Antal friction less thimbles.


While I really like the idea of these they are fairly expensive and if I wish to replace all my turnbuckles with dyneema lashings and Antal thimbles it could work out to cost me the same as brand new stainless wire for the whole boat.

On the upside, if I do go with the dyneema lashings I will be able to keep the current standing rigging as the lashings will provide the extra length. Not to mention, when I install my new external chainplates the length lost by the addition of longer spreaders will once again be made up by  the lashings.

So as you might have guessed, my mind is made up on the dyneema issue. My only concern is the price of the Antal thimbles. My question is thus (somewhat rhetoric as I think I know the answer): is the Antal thimbles really necessary? Perhaps I can run the dyneema lashings through some stainless shackles instead…

More rants on budget rigging to come…



Ambiguity (It will happen when it happens…)

People always ask me what my deadlines are or when I will do some specific task. Sometimes I try to give them a firm date, but it almost never turns out the way I suggested. This can result in a lot of anger and worse disappointment.

Resultantly, I have become ambiguous…

Now, when people ask me when I will do something I tell them soon. When is soon? Soon is whenever I feel like it.

This philosophy, I feel, is very important for the mental well being of any sailor. Our lives are not dominated by arbitrary time schedules, but rather by our own internal clocks and the rhythm of nature.

This is not only appropriate talk when discussing sailing, it is also relevant when refitting or building a boat. Yes! Time is important as you don’t want to sit at the dock for too long, but you also don’t want to miss out on some good sailing when you can.

All my restoration projects  may, therefore, take some time. But, bare with me because all good things to come to an end.




Rebuilding the Cabin Floor – Part 2

Sanding fibreglass is hell.

After 4-5 hours we finished roughly 50% of the sanding needed. I am still debating whether I should remove and replace the cross-beams supporting the cabin floor. However, first thing first – more sanding.

Below are some photographs after today’s debauchery.


Rebuilding the Cabin Floor – Part 1

Yesterday I started removing the old cabin floor which started to disintegrate. I could not find any prominent rot so I concluded that the plywood simply could not survive the strain of constant wear and tear. This is because the underlying structure did not adequately support the cabin floor.


Above: The old cabin floor, looking into the bilge.

Below: The bilge after the cabin floor was removed. Note all the dust and gunk that accumulated below the floor.


Below: Some plywood that was removed. The large piece is from the starboard bunk and is still in good condition.


Below: The old engine bay, with the position of the old engine mountings still visible.


I hope to sand the bilge and floor this week after which I will give it 2 to 3 coats of hard-wearing enamel paint. Additionally I plan to build up the supporting structure with plywood and epoxy after which I will install 18mm marine ply for the new cabin floor.

Refurbished Outboard Bracket

After two months I got the outboard bracket back from the Stainless guys. The initial design of the bracket had two mayor flaws: the first was the thickness of the bolts used to attach the bracket to the transom and the second the ability (or lack there of) to keep the outboard set at different heights. The outboard is mounted on a sliding mechanism which was held up by a line fixed to the stern rail. Not only was this highly inefficient and difficult to work with, it was also dangerous.

I therefore had the old bolts replaced with 12mm stainless bolts and had holes laser-cut so that I can adjust the height of the outboard by inserting a “key” in the new holes. I have had some time to experiment with this and it seems to work much better than before.






New Stern Rail Design

I have decided to have a new stern rail build since the old one looks a bit rough around the edges (pun intended). I really like the current design where there is a seat incorporated for one to sit on when operating the outboard motor. From this seat I can easily adjust speed or kill the motor while steering the tiller with my feet. The only down side, however, is the poor level of workmanship that went into the construction.

Below is a photograph (taken during the initial survey in April) of the current stern rail.


Using Google SketchUp and some measurements I took this morning in 35knots of wind I came up with this design.

seat seat2 seat3

This is only my first draft and all measurements are still to be finalised. Hopefully I will have quotes for the new stern rail by the end of this week. I am also busy with a refit of the outboard bracket which I want to get installed as soon as possible so that I can go sailing again. I will definitely write a post on that as well in the near future.

Finishing the Companionway and Washboards.

I have been planning on varnishing the companionway and washboards for weeks. However it seems that I won’t get a decent enough weather window since cold fronts keep rolling in and the temperature stays in the 12 – 16 degrees Celsius range.

The varnish I bought needs at least 25 degrees Celsius and at least four coats applied over two or three days.

I therefore decided to apply raw lin seed oil instead and I must say I am very pleased. 


Apologies for the bad light, the sun was setting just as I was taking the picture.


Brightwork and Weather Reports.

This morning I woke up before dawn and downloaded the synoptic chart while drinking my coffee. Currently there is a high pressure system over Cape Town, which (in Winter) normally means south easterly winds of about 10 – 15 knots.

I did some work and left the house around 10:30 for Gordon’s Bay. The boat is moored about 30min’s drive from where I live and as I was driving I was glad to see that the south easterly wind predicted seems almost non-existent. Nonetheless, they say the wind is made in Gordon’s Bay and as I was driving over the mountains I could see the wind blowing hard over False Bay.

The harbour is well exposed to the wind and I measured 30knts on the anemometer. I considered going back home, however I was determined to continue to sand the companion way and washboards. I don’t think anyone has ever sanded these as they were in a horrible state. I am convinced that the varnish I removed was the original as applied by Jeremy Rogers. To date I have spend more than 20 hours sanding to get the varnish off in all the places where the weather couldn’t get to it. I believe I am now 95% done, but I have said that before…

I started sanding with a very coarse 80 grit paper to get the most of the varnish off, followed by 100 grit. I will finish it of with either 120 or 180 grit before I apply the new varnish. I bought International’s Perfection Plus varnish for this job. It is rather expensive, but I would like it to last as long as possible. It seems straight forward enough to apply, but the instructions are not as encouraging. I will let you know how it works out.

International Perfection Plus varnish for exterior brightwork.
Finished sanding with 100 grit paper.