Archive for June, 2008

Jun 25 2008

Dinghy Maintenance: Repairing the Cal Sailing Club Dinghy Carnage

Last weekend, the Cal Sailing Club hosted an intensive sailing workshop.  As a result, there were more than a few casualties to the fleet of dinghys, and I swung by the club to help repair them last night.

The club has 5 Laser Bahia’s with a tiny Gennaker sail, a roller furling jib, and little square-top main sail (with reefing points).  They are cute little boats, pretty fast, and really popular.

I spent a couple of hours last night swapping out shackles, fitting cotter pins, and taping sharp things (that could catch wetsuits, cut hands, etc.).  Some of the other volunteers were working on different portions of the same boats.  Towards the end of the evening, we replaced two of the repaired rudders, and the bulk of the mini-fleet of Bahias were back into operation.

This was excellent fun–almost therapeutic.  Working on something, fixing something that was broken, and improving on designs with new ideas. And, then to have the product of your labors be seaworthy afterwards.

Great fun.

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Jun 24 2008

Marina Step Stool Maintenance: Sturdy and Slip-free

Published by under Boat Maintenance

The step stool to get from the Ericson 29 to shore was made of fiberglass, and quite frankly, a bit wobbly.  Also, when it was wet, I would often step straight to the dock.  Unless I was wearing boat shoes, fiberglass and water meant that I might slip.  Last year, a long-time sailor slipped in-transit from dock to her boat, hit her head and drowned quietly in the water.  So, I am a bit mindful.

Step 1: Make it sturdy


I looked underneath to determine why there was wobble in the stool.  Quite simply, there was no reinforcement.  Thin fiberglass was cast in this shape–and, the sides were not thick enough to have any resistance.

  1. From Home Depot, I purchased a single 2×4 fence stud.  It was $1.99.
  2. I measured across the bottom of the step stool–21 1/4 inches.  With the circular saw, I cut 2 pieces to that exact length.
  3. With the drill, I pre-drilled the holes through the fiberglass.  The wood on the 2×4 was really wet and I knew the screws would grab hold.
  4. Put the 2×4 into place, screwed the brass deck screws into place and voila!  The step stool was instantly more sturdy.

Step 2: Clean and Apply Grip Tape for No More Slipping

step_stool1.jpg This part was easy.  Using rubbing alcohol, I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned it.  The dirt came off onto the rag, the rubbing alcohol evaporated away, and the surface was clean.

Afterwards, I applied 2 2-inch strips of non-slip tape to the step stool on both steps.

Project Totals

  • $1.99 – Pine 2×4 stud
  • $0.50 – 8 1 1/2″ deck screws
  • $0.99 – Rubbing alcohol
  • $5.99 – 2″ Non-slip tape
  • 30 minutes of my time

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Jun 21 2008

Cal Sailing Club: Best Value for Sailing on San Francisco Bay

For those of you who may not know, the Cal Sailing Club is one of the best values for sailing on the San Francisco Bay.

The basic premise of the Cal Sailing Club is to function like a co-op for sailing.  For $60/quarter and 2 hours of your labor, you can be a member of the club.  This also entitles you to FREE LESSONS!  As many free lessons as you would like, actually.

After you have achieved a sufficient level of skill and the ability to teach sailing to others, you can earn your Junior Skipper Rating.  With that, you immediately become a Sailing Instructor (you learn the most about a subject matter when you teach it to others).

Do not fret if you are not a natural teacher.  The Cal Sailing Club offer teaching workshops–sort of, train-the-trainer classes for Sailing Instructors.

If you would like to advance your knowledge even further, you can earn your Senior Skipper Rating which includes Keel Boat Sailing, and, of course, the ability to teach it to others.  Your Senior Skipper Rating requires the completion of an approved project.  This may be some maintenance work (leading a work crew) on one of the 6 club-owned keel boats, some dinghy retrofits (again, think work party), or some project of equivalent scope.

And, further still, you can earn your Cruising Skipper rating–which entitles you to plan and lead long-distance cruises in the Keel Boats.  Recent cruises include trips to Angel Island, trips to various locations around the San Francisco Bay for lunch/dinner, night-time cruises, etc.

All of this wonderful instruction is completed under the loving supervision of other members of the club who have earned and passed each of the levels of sailing.

Imagine: all of this fun for $60/quarter and a few hours of your volunteer help.

PS. The Cal Sailing Club still teaches harbor sailing–motorless navigation of the congested waterways of a harbor and th docking of your sailboat.

See the Cal Sailing Club website for details

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Jun 19 2008

Ericson 29: Bottom-cleaning Update

I could not wait for the diver to clean the bottom.  Today, I took the long-handled scrub brush and scrubbed the bottom from the docks.  It is only a temporary solution–I am still scheduling a diver to clean, survey and replace the zincs.

At least this will be better for now.

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Jun 19 2008

Ericson 29: Diving the Bottom

barnacle.jpgIt is TIME to have the bottom cleaned on the Ericson 29 again. In fact, the last time the bottom was cleaned was about 9 months ago. I am actually behind schedule.

The condition of the algae on the bottom actually determines the time more than anything. And, it is definitely time. As seen in the image, there is an entire bustling community of crustaceans living and working on the hull. Not exactly desirable for good hull speed.

I must call the diver to come and clean the bottom of the boat. More importantly, a haul-out and new bottom paint has to happen soon.

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Jun 13 2008

Ericson 29 Specs: Ericson 29 Owner’s Manual

A while back, I found the Ericson 29 Owner’s Manual at the Ericson Owner Association. As an owner of an Ericson 29, and constantly in need of specs and other information, I have only downloaded and provide a link to the Ericson 29 Owner’s Manual.

The Ericson Owner’s Association website has a really nice collection of documentation and specification. Here’s the link:

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Jun 12 2008

Roger Stone – Fair Winds and Following Seas

Published by under Sailboat Racing

My heart goes out for the loss of a fellow sailor, Roger Stone.  He was the Safety Officer aboard the Texas A&M team boat, the Cynthia Woods, and lost his life while saving the lives of two sleeping crew members.  This tale resonates with me because it reminds me of races and experiences that I have had sailing off-shore from San Francisco.

The crew of the Cynthia Woods, a 38 foot racer cruiser built by North Carolina-based Cape Fear Yachts, were doing everything right.  They were sailing on an appropriate sailboat for their regatta from Texas to Veracruz.  They had safety gear aboard (including the flashlight that rescuers would spot to rescue them), and their vessel was inspected as recently as April.  They were a good, cohesive team, and stuck together during a crisis—five members floating 26 hours in the Gulf of Mexico together with only four lifejackets.

This resonates with me because I have metaphorically sailed on that sailboat.  In San Francisco, I have been part of the crew on about a dozen racing sailboats.  They have all been recently inspected,  appropriately sized and provisioned for the conditions, and maintained the proper safety gear aboard.  For the most part, they have been filled with exceptional sailors.

In the weeks to come, there is going to be a major inquiry into what happened.  The boat builders are going to be held accountable, or the Captain, or the inspector from the boat yard who inspected the keel bolts last April.  We are a blood-thirsty culture, and have grown to possess our own insatiable desire for vengeance.  It will be another media spectacle–a modern-day legal witch-hunt.

The focus should, in my opinion, remain on Roger Stone.  He was the hero sailor who was there when the accident happened.  He woke the two sleeping crew members and pushed them through the hatch to safety—thinking about himself last.  He accepted the position of safety officer aboard his ship in both title and spirit, and when a problem arose, he fulfilled his duty.

Let the lawyers and the media feast upon their scraps and turn this into a series of articles on quality standards in boat builders or court cases where we prosecute ship yard employees for negligence.

Roger Stone’s selfless act of heroism IS the story.

Fair winds and following seas.

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Jun 04 2008

Boat Fiberglass Repair

One of the absolutely best instructional videos about Fiberglass Repair is made by Will Borden–titled simply, “Fiberglass Repair.” I bought the two DVD set directly from his website (, and it is worth every single penny.

In the with the first volume, will walks you through an overview of the process, shows you the tools that you will need (with opinons about brands, types, and acceptable substitutes), safety precautions, and leads you through several small projects. He highlights color-matching, best practices, and ways to achieve the maximum efficiency in your progress.

The second volume builds upon the first, and is the documentation of the removal and repair of a transom on a medium-sized fishing boat. It is superb!

The video is clear, and narration is logical, and in a no-frills style, he shows you exactly how to work with, repair, and create new things with fiberglass. This is a great resource!

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