Sunday, June 29, 2008


I read that lines should be replaced about every 10 years and Speakeasy is about 10 years old. I wondered if that was an old wives tale, a rule of thumb, a rubric, or what? What is the evidence? I've been collecting some. First, a few weeks ago, the clothes line part of the Dutchman flaking system failed and was replaced. Last week, a visiting sailor noticed that the spinnaker halyard had a tumor or so it appeared. The core of that line was bunched up on the outside of the protective cover and looked like a growth on the side of the line. We reasoned that the line could be dangerous if used to hoist a sail or a person. Since it was extra, it would likely have been put into service to lift a boatswain's chair if we left it installed. Instead, we took it down and replaced it with a "messenger" line--a smaller temporary line which can be used to thread a new line back up the mast without the need of a boatswain's chair to climb the mast. Yesterday, another line on the Dutchman system failed. The control line that directs the sail to fall into a nice flake on the boom snapped off near the top during a strong wind in the harbor. I was simply raising the sail while we were at the mooring can in order to flake the sail better since our attempt while coming in from a sail in strong winds was inadequate--I forgot to snug the topping lift before dropping the sail. So, three lines have failed at about the 10-year mark.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


A friend and sailor described a boat as an old cottage with
construction issues surrounded by water. Issues have kept Speakeasy
from sailing for 2 weeks. The current issue is the mismatched screws
holding the mainsail slider plate. This plate keeps the sail from
leaving the slot that holds the luff to the mainmast. The plate is
design to slide in one direction to allow the sail hanks to come off and in
the other direction to prevent them from coming off. Tension screws keep
the plate in one orientation or the other.

The issue is that the original screws are missing and the replacements
do not fit the threads tapped into the mast. I read a document on the
Catalina 320 site that put the screws at 4 mm. Threads on a screw
measured in millimeters are not the same as threads on an English screw
even if their diameters were the same, which they are not. Not only
are the screws incorrect they are incorrect in different ways. One is
too wide and one too thin. One is a straight slot head and the other a
Philips head.

The original screws had knurled thumb heads so that a sailor might
tighten or loosen the plate without tools. The current situation took
two screwdrivers. In fact one was so tight that pliers were necessary
to remove it--three tools.

This is Chicago not Dresden so the local hardware store does not have
stainless steel screws in 4mm size. This takes a trip to the boat
store. Even the boat store can't supply original screws. I opted for
4mm hexhead screws and hoped the threads in the mast haven't been
harmed so badly these screws won't hold.