Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's a Wrap!

Well, the season's officially over.  I had the boat hauled back to the boatshed a few weeks back and have been working on getting her all tucked in for the winter.  I had Magic hauled a bit early because I didn't want to wait until it was too cold to get anything done and I especially wanted to get a few coats of varnish on the rails before the weather got ugly.  I had only gotten 5 coats on the rail before launching and I didn't want my efforts wasted and have to sand the whole thing down again.  
I was able to lay down 2 more coats over the past few weeks so I'll have a head start next spring.  I also got the engine winterized and the fuel filled and a number of other minor things done.  I'm starting to ramp up to rewire the boat and do some interior cosmetic work but that won't get started for a while.  

In the meantime, the folks at Good Old Boat magazine were kind enough to publish an article of mine that detailed the restoration.  It's a 2 part article and I just received the first issue (November/December 2014).  If your reading my site then chances are you either have an old boat or want one and you will love Good Old Boat magazine.  Every issue has lots of info and usually showcases somebody's project boat with lots of good technical info.  Definitely check them out at

Magic on Good Old Boat

Monday, September 8, 2014

Checking In

Not much to say right now other than I've been enjoying being back on the water.  The countless hours I spent in that godforsaken shed have finally paid off and I have enjoyed every minute on the boat.  Nothing of note has gone wrong except for a halyard popping off the jib yesterday and getting hung up at the top of the mast.  I will probably send my son up the mast in the next week or so to retrieve it, but I have a spare halyard to use, so all is not lost.

Sadly though, I need to start thinking about the winter and what I'll be doing and where I'll be storing the boat.  Right now, it looks like she will be heading back to the shed where I can do some electrical work over the winter, but I'm not 100% sure yet.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Groove

The Center Harbor approach keeps
me on my toes.
We have been out a bunch of times since I last posted and I've been pleasantly surprised at how few issues have come up.  I got the fuel leak straightened out easily enough and it's literally been smooth sailing ever since.  The biggest challenge has been getting used to handling a 35 foot boat again after so many years, but every day I start to feel more comfortable with how the boat handles (especially with a tiller now).

Another challenge that I never even considered was the fact that Lake Winnipesaukee can be a challenge to navigate.  There are literally hundreds of islands big and small and many ledges and reefs that you really have to pay attention to.  I still don't care for the 'inland navigation' system of black and red 'sticks' that mark rocks and channels.  I find them hard to spot and they seem to be everywhere and not always accurate.  I've been keeping the chart very close by and I just downloaded a Navionics charting app for the tablet that should help out.  At least there are no foul currents to deal with.

One of the double edge swords of sailing here is that the fresh water is crystal clear.  On one hand it's really nice because the swimming is terrific, but it has scared the crap out of me on a number of occasions because even though the depth may be 20 or more feet, it looks like we are about to hit bottom and slam into rocks because the water is so clear.

Aside from those minor challenges, things are good.  We've had a bunch of sails so far that have been really relaxing and everyone is starting to feel comfortable aboard after such a long absence.  It's nice to see the kids kick back and just enjoy being out on the water and have fun on the boat.

Of course the list of things to do will never be complete, but most of the sailing 'to do' items have been crossed off, although a few things came to light that I hadn't fully considered.  The first is a bonehead move on my part.  When I decided to convert back to hank on headsails earlier this year, I bought a used 135% hank on genoa and sold my 135% furling sail.  One of the main reasons I went back to hank on was that the furling 135% genoa was good for most conditions, but if the air was too light or too heavy, it was a headache.  Partially rolling it up when too windy never worked out well because it pretty much killed the shape of the sail and I couldn't sail well to windward.  In super light air it just didn't have enough area to get me moving well.  I figured going back to a hank on system would allow me to change headsails as conditions dictated.

When I originally bought the boat, the previous owner had given me a pile of older headsails in various condition and size.  They had been in storage forever, so when I pulled them out this spring I was happy to find a decent 90% working jib for the heavy stuff and a 160% genoa for the light air.  I cleaned them up and tucked them away for launch day.  The 160% had a furling luff and no hanks, but I must have forgotten about needing to have hanks sewn on because the other day we were in some really light stuff and I had my son rig it (14 year old who are willing to do so are like breathing roller furlers, just hungrier).  He got it up on deck and said "Um, dad, I can't find the hanks".  It's a big sail, so I just thought he was being a space cadet, but as I went forward it dawned on me that I never had it converted.  There was a bit of eye rolling when I told him "Ooops, lets go with the 135 instead".  Anyway, I'll probably wait until the off-season to get that done.

Yes, I see the scallops in the headsail. I'll
blame it on my son :)
The second issue that came up happened late Tuesday afternoon when we went out for our first really windy sail.  The wind was steady at 21 knots and really more than I wanted to sail in this early, but I figured it would be a good shake down.  We went with the 90% jib and full main (I probably should have thrown in a reef in the main), but found that the genoa tracks were mounted too far aft and outboard to effectively pull the leech of the sail down.  The result was too much twist in the sail and a really loose leach that flapped pretty constantly when we were tight on the wind.  It was still better than partially rolling the furling sail because we easily got up over 7 knots when slightly off the wind, but I need to figure out a mounting point further forward for the sheets.  I have some decent Merriman snatch blocks that will do nicely, but I have to find the best spot.  I think I will go with a fixed point mount to simplify things a bit, but in the meantime I may just experiment and run them off one of the chainplates for now.

What's next?  More sailing, Winnipesaukee is stunningly beautiful with the islands and mountains all around.  I'm not thinking about anything else until I pull the boat in the fall.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

First Sail

I went to work really early on Friday so I could get everything I needed done before taking off at 2 PM.  I drove straight up to the yard and found that Nick had done a great job sorting out the shift linkage and now it is shifting perfectly into forward and reverse.  I had made the assumption that the position of the throw lever on the gearbox mirrored the direction.  In other words, I assumed that when you pushed the gearbox lever forward, it meant you would go forward.  Not so. Fortunately, Nick was able to easily swap the cable from the bottom of the control to the top to reverse the throw.  Now it does the right thing and slips into forward, neutral, and reverse without any hesitation.  Perfect.

I ran the engine for about an hour and the temperature maxed out at about 175, which is about what it used to do, so no overheating issues. With the engine running nicely, it was time to shove off.  I was a bit apprehensive because I had driven the boat in many years and the last time I did, it was wheel steered, now it's a tiller.  Most importantly, the space I had to maneuver out of was very tight, and I didn't want to start playing bumper boats quite so soon. Luckily, there was no wind so it was just a matter of taking it slow.  I motored through the docks and picked up the mooring on the first shot even though I misjudged the momentum a bit and had to manhandle the pendant onto the cleat.  I closed things up and took the launch back in and called it a day.  

This morning I got the family going as early as I could and we drove up to the boat with the plan of sailing over to Center Harbor where our mooring is located.  It's only about a 15 mile trip, but I had never been there before by water and there are several tight channels to navigate through.  

We started out by hanking on the main, but when I hooked on the halyard I realized that it was on the forward side of the spreader.  I grabbed a big wrench and attached it to the shackle thinking that I would raise the halyard up to the spreader and then the weight of the wrench would be sufficient to allow the halyard to lower on it's own on the aft side of the spreader.  My son told me it wasn't enough weight, but I didn't listen. Sure enough when I got the halyard above the spreader and tried to lower it, the weight of the wrench wasn't enough and it just stayed there, swinging around. My son gave me the 'I told you so' look that only a 14 year old teenager can deliver and I decided that now was a good time to eat crow.  

Once he was satisfied, I volunteered to send him up the mast to retrieve the halyard.  He was only too happy to go aloft since he is always climbing trees and scaring his mom and I with his fearless antics in high places.  I hoisted him up and he quickly retrieved the halyard and put it on the correct side of the spreader.  

With that done, we hoisted the main, fired up the engine and dropped the mooring pendant.  We motor sailed out of the harbor as there wasn't much wind, but a light breeze filled in once out in the open lake.  We raised the 135% genoa and shut the engine down and ghosted along in the light breeze for the first time in a long, long while.  Everything was going fine; we had some leftover pizza for lunch and I finally started to relax knowing that it had finally all come together.  

The wind died out after we rounded a point out into the main lake and I decided to fire up the engine.  It started right up and we chugged along for a few minutes before I started to smell diesel. I looked into the engine compartment and saw that the secondary fuel filter was leaking fuel all over the place.  Crap...  I shut the engine down and unscrewed the filter bowl to see what the problem was.  I finally figured out that the fuel filter retaining ring was cross threaded onto the filter.  I couldn't get it to re-thread properly and I think that the retaining ring might be screwed up.  I am going to order a new ring first thing Monday morning.  

I decided that it would be best to turn back to Fay's just in case I needed a mechanic.  I spread a bunch of gasket sealer on the threads of the fuel filter in the hope that it would stop most of the leak when we needed to fire up the engine where the channel to get into Fay's narrows to about 100 feet and the wind is usually zero.  

We turned around and slowly sailed back to the harbor and made it almost all of the way through the narrow channel before the wind got too squirrely to continue without the engine.  The kids did a great job working the foredeck and making sure the genoa didn't hang up in the light air and when it came time to dump it, they worked as a team and got it down without dropping it in the water. I fired it up and eased it into gear to give us some headway while Steph held a cup underneath the filter bowl to keep the mess to a minimum.  Apparently the gasket sealer worked, because no fuel leaked for the few minutes we had the engine running before picking up the mooring again.  

So we didn't make our final destination today, but it was great to get back out sailing again and other than the fuel leak, we had a great time.  I knew there would be 'bugs' once I got back on the water, and today's trials reassured me that keeping the boat close this first year back in the water was the right decision.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It Floats

It's been a long day, but I'm happy to say that Magic is back in the water and floating.   The past few days have been a blur of working until 9 or 10 PM and culminated last night when I pulled the end of the boat shed off so the truck could get the boat.  It was strange being able to see the boat from outside the shed, but it reminded me of a cocoon opening up and spitting out a moth.  I called it a day at dark and went back to the house to compile a final list of things I needed to do before the truck came to pick up the boat at 10:30 the next morning.

I got going at 5:00 AM because I still had a ton to do to get everything ready for hauling.  I won't go into too many details, but I had way too many tools lying around and way too much crap laying on the floor of the boat shed, so I spent the first two hours getting everything organized and cleaned up.

Once I was satisfied that the truck would be able to get into the shed to retrieve the boat, I rigged and labeled all the standing rigging and put the jib and auxillary halyard on.  I wrapped everything up with foam wrap and duct tape so everything would stay together for the trip.  I pulled the stanchions off because there was so little clearance between the top of the stanchions and the boat shed roof.  We got the boom aboard and secured just as the truck from Miles Marine showed up right on time.

I'm always amazed watching boat haulers do their thing because it just seems like such a bad idea to remove all but three jackstands and have the entire boat teetering there while they slide the wishbone trailer around the keel and under the boat.  It took about an hour to get the boat loaded because of the tight quarters in the boat shed, but once on the trailer they slowly eased it out of the shed without issue.  Next we loaded the mast onto the mast rack and I jumped on board to put the stanchions back on and that was it... They were off.

I went back to the house and had lunch and then drove up to Fay's Boatyard where I hoped the boat would be.  On the way up I half expected to see a fiery crash with Magic crushed on the side of the road. Fortunately, all was well and when I pulled into the boatyard, they already had Magic off the truck and hanging from a big fork truck ready to go in.  They don't have a travel lift here and side launch all boats with their big fork truck (some are in the 45' range).

Two minutes after I got there, they simply rolled forward toward the water and set it in; no drama.
I hopped on board and checked to make sure water wasn't pouring in and found that the stuffing box was trickling pretty good.  It turns out that it wasn't the gland itself but the clamps around the stuffing box hose weren't tight enough. I snugged them up and stopped the inflow.  Another minor issue was that the scupper seacocks were dripping a little bit (one drop every ten seconds or so).  Nick and Wayne (They handle all the sailboats in the harbor) didn't seem concerned and said they would get it taken care of. I'm also having them adjust the Teleflex engine control because I couldn't quite get the shifting working properly.  It's one of those linkage issues where everything has to be lined up just right or it won't sync up with the gearbox properly.

One of the many things I was worried about was stepping the mast.  Since I had never made up my own standing rigging before a few weeks ago (here), I wasn't sure that it would all work, but the new rigging actually went on much better than the lower shrouds that I didn't replace.  It was perfect; PHEWWW!

All in all I'm really happy the way things turned out and the boat looks sooooo much better out of the shed and into real sunlight and water.  Tomorrow I'll be heading over to get the sails bent on and make sure the engine is happy before we hopefully move the boat over to Center Harbor on Saturday for the rest of the season.

Monday, July 28, 2014

So The Beast Demanded a Rematch

This has been a tough week for boat work given my Lyme Disease diagnosis and a family reunion in Keene that kept me away for four days.  The good news is that I'm feeling much better after a few days of antibiotics.  The bad news is that the engine decided it wanted a rematch.

The first 'leg' of the family reunion was at our house when a bunch of family members flew into town.  I didn't even go over to the boat shed for 24 hours and when I stopped in to check on my list of stuff to do, I noticed a bit of antifreeze on one of the hoses.  At first I just thought it was an errant drop, but on further inspection, I found about a pint in the bilge. Crap.  I got a really bright light to trace where it was leaking from and found that several of the gaskets on the exhaust manifold were leaking, and one of them was leaking badly.  Crap again... 

After I finished sobbing I realized I had two choices. Wait until the boat was hauled to the marina, have them pull the manifold and fix the gaskets while my wallet bled gobs of money or do it myself.  With that said, I really didn't have a choice because there just aren't any more gobs of money in my wallet, so I called Hansen Marine and ordered a new suit of gaskets (4 on the wet side and 4 on the exhaust side).  They came the next day in the mail (kudos to Hansen for rushing this) and got up really early the next morning before the rest of the family had gotten up and drained the coolant, pulled all the new hoses I had just installed, and unbolted the thing from the motor and the rest of the exhaust.  To say it sucked was an understatement, because getting the three exhaust ports unbolted from the underside of the manifold with the starter, solenoid, water pump and who knows what else in the way was just unbelievably difficult.  

Amazingly though, after two hours of craning my neck, scratching my head, and yelling at the beast, I managed to get it off without losing any fasteners to the bilge or destroying something else in the process.  I brought it back to the shop and stripped it down, pulling the end caps and the other wet side gaskets.  Then I scrubbed the thing down with soap and water and got all the grease off.   I figured that since I had it out, I might as well paint it (I have a can of Westerbeke Red spray paint).  I shot 2 coats on, letting it dry a few hours in between (all while doing family things in between) and then put it all back together with the new gaskets and high temp gasket cement for good measure.

At that point we left for Keene for a few days so I had to wait until yesterday afternoon when to get the manifold back on.  The reverse process wasn't nearly as bad, but there were still a few moments when I just couldn't seat one of the bolts and almost dropped it into the abyss.  I refilled the antifreeze but I won't have another chance to start the motor until the boat is back in the water so I've got my fingers crossed.  I'm reasonably confident that it will be ok, but we'll see...

Back together with fresh paint and a new suit of gaskets.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Time is running very short now and I am seriously under the gun to finish up.  The boat will be trucked up to Winnipesaukee on either the 29th or the 30th and I need to be done. To make matters more difficult, this past Friday I stared feeling crappy.  Not just average crappy, but really crappy. I took my temperature when I got home and it was 101.  Too make a long story short, the fever continued until Sunday and I felt progressively worse every day.  We were eating lunch and my sun noticed a "bullseye" rash on my shoulder where I had a tick bite a few weeks earlier. Crap, Lyme Disease.  I went down to urgent care and the doctor pretty much confirmed Lyme Disease.  All the symptoms and the bullseye rash make it pretty clear cut.  A big, long dose of anitbiotics and I should be feeling better soon.  Yesterday, I was a mess, but I felt quite a bit better today.

Finally, a long planned family reunion is starting tomorrow and will continue until Sunday so my time will be severely limited.  So the clock is seriously ticking and time is not on my side. The good news is that I did manage to get a lot of things wrapped up since the last time I wrote even though I had to take it slow because I was feeling pretty poor.

I finished up 6 coats of varnish on the winch blocks and decided I'd better get them on.  More varnish would have to wait.  I had previously tapped the winch bolt holes in the blocks so it was just a matter of placing them where I wanted them and drilling the deck with a long bit.  That whole section of the deck is solid glass (I planned ahead), so there was no need to over-drill to protect the core.  Then I laid down a thick bead of mahogany colored Sikaflex 291 around the bolt holes, and along the edge where the blocks meet the coaming.  As it turned out it was a bit too thick and I'm not really happy with the way it came out, but I'll have to live with it for the time being.  Eventually, I'll get in there with a razor and trim the big blobs away.

I also got the cockpit Kiwigrip'd.  Same story as the previous four or five times I've done various sections.  I spent the vast majority of time taping and sanding the edges, followed by a vacuum and a wipe down with acetone before cracking open the can.  I had just enough.  I had ordered another quart just in case, and I needed every drop.  I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out although my taping was a little bit sloppy in spots.  I am blaming the Lyme disease.