Off to New Jersey

I’ve never been entirely confident in the trailer’s wheel bearings so I decided to take a look at them in preparation for a 750 mile trip and I’m glad I did. The tapered bearing surfaces on the hubs were full of pits and dings and both rear grease seals were shredded. I bought some new hubs (4 on 4 that fit L44649 bearings plus a pair of 1.983″ x 1.249″ grease seals) and changed them out. It’s a messy job but I’m pleased to say that after 3 hours at 60+ mph the hubs were barely warm to the touch.

I thought my great idea of running individual ground wires to the tail lights would solve my wiring problems forever, but that was not the case. Lately I’ve noticed the right rear light was intermittent or really dim, so after a brief search I found the ground wire had basically turned to powder. Everything was wrapped tightly in electrical tape and I used solder shrink fittings so I have no idea where the corrosion came from. The insulation was crumbly for nearly a foot but curiously the two wires beside it in the same run were unaffected. I soldered on a new section of wire and that solved the problem.

With the trailer sorted I got all the sailing stuff packed into the boat plus the camping stuff I’ve been working on lately. I haven’t been sailing yet this year, but the rig has had all the bugs worked out that I can think of. Hopefully setting up at the ramp won’t take too long.

Last year I bought a boat cover to keep the road grime out of the boat. I finally got around to cutting the straps to the right size and melting the ends so I don’t have a mile of excess to tie up. Driving home there were periods of torrential rain and the inside was completely dry when I arrived.

We took off for my in-laws in New Jersey with an overnight stop at a friend’s place in Maryland. I’m not sure I get the appeal of townhouses… maneuvering an F250 around the narrow parking lot, parking a ways away because the nearby visitor spots were taken, no yard, no garage… Not for me! I much prefer not being able to see my neighbor’s houses for the woods.

Unfortunately it was a washout the entire time we were in New Jersey. I really wanted to do an overnight trip continuing on from my trip last year on Barnegat Bay and while Tuesday was marginal, I really didn’t want to be out there on Wednesday. We’ll probably go back towards the end of summer and I’ll try again.

Trolling motor and New Jersey

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a trolling motor setup so I don’t have to use my British Seagull which, to be honest, isn’t all that great for the environment.

Also my wife and I are heading up to New Jersey for about 10 days to help her parents move. I’ve got some ideas for a few sailing adventures so here’s how to bring two trailers! I seriously wanted to weld a hitch receiver onto the utility trailer so I could pull doubles, but apparently it would only be legal through Maryland.

Spring Modifications

Here’s some modifications I’ve been doing lately. My first child, Henry, was born in April so things have been happening much slower than usual! We’re going up to New Jersey in July to visit my wife’s family and I plan to take the boat along… I’m thinking I’d like to get a long daysail in on Barnegate Bay.

Changed out the leaf springs on my trailer for a pair of 500 pounders. This has made the ride much smoother.

Fabricated some aluminum fenders to replace the broken sheet metal ones. I slipped them into a batch of metalwork I made to be powder coated, so I should get them back soon.

Rigged up a pulley system under my sunroom so I could touch up the paint on the hull that I scraped off going across the sandbar at Ocracoke Island last year. I also got around to getting the boat registered so I can use a motor! I hand painted the letters which was a lot more difficult than it seems.

Mast and bilge pump

It’s been too cold lately to varnish in the garage, so I set up the mast in the spare bedroom. I put on five coats of Helmsman spar urethane, probably not as good as real spar varnish but I’ll give it a try this season. I can’t imagine it’ll be a problem for a garage kept boat. The fiberglassed section is a little noticeable, but not too bad.

A few times I’ve buried the rail while trying to bail out water in a blow, so I thought a diaphragm pump might be a more sedate way of keeping my feet dry. I’m thinking I’ll have a pipe go to each side of the boat where the water collects, a diverter valve in the middle so I can select which side to pump, and a check valve on the ends of the tubes to keep water from draining back in. Pumping the water into the centerboard case seems like a tidy way to do it. I’d like the pump to be centrally located so I can work it on either tack, but this option looks like it’ll take up too much floor space and the plumbing might be awkward.

Back here on the sternsheets looks pretty convenient, although the handle would need to be lowered to accommodate the sleeping platform. Looks like there’d be a lot of awkward plumbing for this option too.

Underneath the main thwart with the handle just sticking through is high on the list. It’ll be mostly tucked away and the plumbing runs will be short.

I think I’m leaning towards something like this. The handle should be a little easier to work and it’s still out of the way. Next I need to figure out what plumbing parts I need. The threads on the pump aren’t NPT and I have no idea what standard they are other than 1-7/16″ – 6, so I might see if I can 3d print some custom adapters. Failing that I could machine some.

Now that I’ve typed all that out about the bilge pump, I’m wondering if a single flexible hose and check valve would be better. Since I’d need to lean down to work the diverter valve I might as well just clip a hose onto the frame where the water collects.


Here’s a few improvements I’ve been working on lately.

Got the area around the new hatch painted and the hatch installed with butyl tape. The #10 screws on the sides fasten to the new stiffeners I added underneath and on the ends are machine screws through the 1/4″ plywood sternsheets. This will really improve access and keep the bilge water out. I faired the front well enough you’d never know there used to be a hatch there.

I epoxied an oak peg onto the top of the mast when I was experimenting with my topsail, but it ended up not working very well. It was too hard to slip a loop of line on the topmast around it, and using it to route a halyard didn’t work either. Plus it also tended to mess with the set of the jib halyard turning block.

I chiseled off most of the peg and sanded the rest smooth. I need to figure out something for the topmast halyard, there might be just enough room for another beehole in the middle.

The boom jaws have been gouging the mast a bit so I sanded back the varnish and will epoxy some left over 6oz fiberglass around once it warms up. I knew keeping the scraps from fiberglassing the hull would come in useful someday!

I also plan to touch up the paint and varnish, but that’ll have to wait for warmer weather. It’s been freezing here in Virginia lately and it doesn’t look like it’ll let up any time soon. The topsides are in fairly decent shape, but there’s a few spots underneath that got worn off when I dragged the boat across a sandbar at Ocracoke last summer.

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.


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.


Today was calm so I decided to try out my improvements with a test rigging. I’m pleased to say everything is working great! I’ve made toggle robands for the mainsail, a long pennant for the peak which runs down the sprit to a cleat by the heel, the snotter tension leads aft, there’s a toggling snotter arrangement, and a few other various time saving measures.

All rigged! I hope I can get out on the water soon.

My original snotter was a little too complex for its own good. It was all one piece and cow hitched around the mast, which was good for minimizing the number of lines needed but it was super awkward to rig and unrig. So I decided I’d make something with a toggle to make it easier, and a separate snotter line that stays attached to the sprit. I’ll cut the tail off once I’m sure this version is working, and I might add another seizing below the loop and a third above.

Here you can see the snotter running from the heel of the sprit up to the low friction ring on the toggle arrangement and back down the mast to the mast parter where it turns aft to a cleat on the centerboard case. I’ve also addd a long line to the main’s peak which runs down the sprit to a cleat near the heel. I originally had the cleat on the other side of the leather, but it was too high to be convenient.

Here’s the snotter running through a beehole in the mast partner back to a cleat on the centerboard case. I got rid of the mechanical advantage I had last year, but this still seems to work ok. It’s pretty close to the limit friction wise though so I’ll have to try it out on the water to make sure. The other cleat is for a boom downhaul which I haven’t fully decided how to run yet.

Random Improvements

I’ve been working along on all the stuff that needs to be fixed or improved, so this post will be a hodgepodge of random stuff.

Ross recommended making a bracket that bolts onto the centerboard and projects up through the centerboard trunk cap. Then a stainless rod attaches to that to allow you to raise and lower the centerboard. The bracket seemed like a lot of work, so I just drilled a hole and whittled out a section for the thickness of the rod. The hole is encased with thickened epoxy to provide a hard surface and the rod is bent in such a way that it lays flat along the cap when the board is in the up position.

Here’s how the rod sits when the board is up.

As I mentioned in my last post, the wiring on my trailer had quit working so I decided to permanently fix it. I bought 25′ of 7 strand 14ga trailer wire so I could run individual ground wires to the lights. I’m not going to use the trailer as a ground again, too much corrosion. The purple wire is the second brown wire to the brake lights, and the blue wire is the second ground. The red wire isn’t needed at all. I wired everything up with solder heat shrink fittings, which seem to work really well. These things have a little blob of low temperature solder in the middle that melts with a heat gun. After testing to make sure it was wired correctly, I wrapped everything in a few layers of electrical tape. Probably not as good as amalgamating tape, but I didn’t have any.

I originally built wooden rudder cheeks, but somehow they ended up too tight for the rudder. I was about to go on vacation and needed something, so I welded one up out of aluminum. I didn’t have time to paint it, so I’ve been sailing around with it bare for two years. I finally decided to have my buddy powder coat it the same green as the mast partner, but it outgassed quite a bit during the baking. Part of the problem was galvanic corrosion between the stainless gudgeon and pintles, so I cut some insulators out of a milk jug. Might not be necessary with the powder coating, but it can’t hurt.

The notch in my new mast partner ended up just a hair smaller than the original, so I needed to thin down my leather padding. I sharpened a little thumb plane razor sharp and it worked surprisingly well. Leather seems to have a grain to it since it would dig in one direction, but cut beautifully in the opposite. I took the leather down to about half its original thickness.

Added a small cleat to the sprit which will hold a line running through a bee hole from the peak of the sail. I figure this will make rigging easier, rather than trying to catch the peak in a notch on the end of the sprit.

Through a convoluted story, I ended up with this little outboard. It’s a Honda BF2A that looks to be in pretty good shape. It seems to make decent compression and everything turns freely. The only catch is that it’s missing about $300 in parts. It needs a carburetor, gas tank, air guide, and throttle linkage. I’m currently trying to decide if it’s worth fixing up, especially since I don’t know that it’ll run. I would really like to replace my British Seagull with this since it’s a 4 stroke, even though I don’t really run the Seagull enough to worry about the crazy oil ratio.

Trailer Maintenance

I’ve been working on the trailer while the boat was hanging in my shop. I built a platform to support the keel and keep the trailer from scraping the paint off when I launch. I also lowered the side bunks and moved them ahead a bit. After the platform was built, I took the wheels off to repack the bearings and change the dust covers for some Bearing Buddies.

I’m glad I did because I was greeted to a handful of rollers spilling out of the hub when I took the wheel off. This trailer is pretty old and I don’t think the bearings have ever been replaced. Anyway, I bought some new A-4 bearings, packed them, and got the wheels installed again.

Next I stapled some bunk carpet to the new platform. There’s a wooden block that supports the keel’s rocker up forward under the carpet. I added a jack too, so I don’t have to move the trailer with a dolly or the winch handle. The red bow stop is new as well, the previous one was a black rubber roller that left black marks on the bow. Hopefully this one doesn’t make my boat look like I ran over a scuba diver.

And finally I got the boat back on the trailer. I’ve bedded all the fittings that go on the deck which was a job. You don’t think it should take that long to bolt stuff down but it does. It didn’t help that I had to remake the backing plates because I put the originals somewhere for safe keeping… I still need to clean and paint the inside of the boat before I can put the inspection hatches in.

And of course no project would be complete without uncovering more problems than you started with. The trailer lights have quit working, even though they’re only a year old. They’re LED and I always unplug them before backing into the water, so I think there’s a corroded connection somewhere. I’m getting 1.5 volts measuring between the trailer ground and the plug. There’s a complete circuit but I guess there must be too much resistance somewhere for the lights to work. Anyway, I’m thinking about running a dedicated ground line to each light and changing the wire nuts to those heat shrink butt connectors. Either that or make some clamp on lights and remove them when going into the water. Whatever I do, I don’t want wiring the trailer to become a yearly thing!