Winter Modifications

Sailing season is over, so now it’s on to the winter improvements! The last major modification I can think of is to remove the hatch on the front of the sternsheets and replace it with a big rectangular one on the top. I’ve had trouble with water seeping through the seal when the boat gets a few inches of water inside which is why I bought an auto bilge pump for my most recent trip to Ocracoke. A larger hatch will also make the space a lot easier to access for storage.

I jigsawed a hole for a 14.75″ x 10.6″ Seaflo access hatch and stripped back the paint. I had to cut through the central stiffener and unfortunately the 1/4″ plywood is a little too flexible for my liking. It might be ok once the hatch is bolted in place, but I’m going to add a .75″ x 1.5″ stiffener on either side of the hole.

You know that box of wood scraps we all have that are probably really not worth saving? I found my 6.5″ diameter discs from when I cut the holes for the original inspection hatches! I beveled the edges a bit as a “weld prep” and epoxied it in place with thickened epoxy. Packing tape kept everything flush. I also epoxied the two new stiffeners along either side of the hole.

While I was epoxying I added some drain holes to the motor well. I used a large Forstner bit and intersected the floor of the well a bit. Then I filled the holes with thickened epoxy and drilled again with a smaller bit. The holes came out right at floor level, so they should drain nicely.

I tested the glue bond on the piece I cut out for the access hatch and was very pleased to find it took about 5 decent whacks with a 3 pound mini maul before breaking off. This was purely a mechanical bond since both pieces were encapsulated with 3 coats of neat epoxy before later being joined with thickened epoxy. A chemical bond is stronger but it really makes no difference since the plywood failed along the entire joint.



In mid September my wife and our parents went down to Ocracoke Island for a week long vacation. We stayed in a cottage on Lighthouse Road and had access to a dock at the southern end of the harbor, so of course I brought my sailboat. It was a pretty windy week, but I did manage to get out on a long daysail. I ended up going 41.6 miles to nowhere in 8.5 hours. My average speed was 4.8 mph and I hit a new top speed of 9.2 mph!

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

My wife and I are down at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina on vacation and on Saturday I went on a daysail to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse on the South Core Banks. To get there I circled Shackleford Banks which meant I had Moga out in the Atlantic for a few miles. There were tons of boaters though, more than I’ve ever seen. I went 32.7 miles in 8.5 hours with an average speed of 4 mph.


It’s been too hot to sail lately, but I did take a friend Steve’s Snark out at a July 4th get together. This boat is 11′ long and made entirely of styrofoam. It is surprisingly fun and quick to set up and it’s got me thinking of a car toppable skin on frame sailboat someday.

My buddy and I both sailed it and our combined 380 pounds was just a bit over the max capacity of 310. We had water pouring over the bow at every wavelet and the boat twisted a fair amount. I later took it out about a mile and a half into the Rappahannock with no problems.

Apparently you could mail order the boat for $88 and the carton flap of Kool cigarettes. Free shipping!

Overnight to Tangier Island

Last Saturday I went on my first overnight beach cruising trip from Windmill Point to Tangier Island and back. It was 68.5 miles and my average speed was 3.4 mph. The winds were light and contrary, but sailing went fine. My camping setup is woeful, so that will need some improvement. I learned a ton on this trip too with a near miss on a lee shore at night.

Camping ideas

The last improvement to the boat was the addition of a turning block for the boom downhaul. Previously I’ve just been using the tail of the main halyard to pull the boom down, but I’ve been a bit wary of doing it that way since it could increase the time to get the sail down in a hurry. So today I drilled a hole through the base of the mast, chamfered the edges well, and attached a low friction ring in a loop of line. We’ll see if I need to add any purchase or not.

With the sailing stuff pretty much finished, I’ve been thinking of some sort of tent. I’d like to use the sprit as a ridge pole with a crutch on the transom. I think having the tent low at the bow might be a good idea to try and get the boat to weathercock into the wind too. I’ll probably make a prototype out of polytarp and carpet tape and just clamp the crutch onto the motor well for the first few outings until I can get a better idea of how it needs to work.

Possibly the tent could be used in this position too in calm conditions.