Category Archives: Projects

Cool Alberg 30 Refit Videos

One of these days I hope to have the A30 that’s languishing in my driveway looking like this. James Baldwin does nice work. Yep, I’m jealous.



This post is pulled from a defunct Ariel blog. I performed this repair a few years ago)

The same instrument displays that created the gelcoat work described in another post also necessitated below-the-waterline modifications. The new Raymarine depth and speed transducers required a 2″ hole, whereas the old Nexus transducers were 1-1/2″. Enlarging a hole by sanding or grinding is a sure way to create just about anything but a perfect circle, so I planned to use a 2″ hole saw. Without something for the pilot bit to bite, however, the drill will wander. No problem. I drove a tapered wooden plug into each hole, then cut it flush with the hull (in the case of the depth transducer, I cut it parallel to the horizontal). Now my pilot bit had something to bite to center the hole saw, and both holes turned out great.




I applied a thin layer of unthickened epoxy over the edges of exposed laminate in each new cut to prevent water migration, then bedded the transducers in plenty of 4200. Ariel splashed a few days later with nary a leak. By the way, hull thickness in both areas is 1″.

Getting Stuff Done

I wrapped up a couple of sewing projects recently that have been hanging over my head. It’s nice to have them finished. My work schedule doesn’t allow a lot of free time for the things I want to do, and to have must-do sewing projects lingering is a significant stressor – especially when they need to be done before winter weather sets in, as was the case with these last two projects.

The first was a cover for a Zodiac 420. The old cover was a generic, unfitted cover with a bungee/elastic bottom. It had become stiff and the stitching had failed on one of the seams. I thought a nice fitted cover would be more practical because the boat sits on a floating dock/ramp just out of the water. Shock cord attached to rub rail clasps secure the cover to the hull, and four nylon straps can be used for trailering or added security. A collapsable aluminum pole in the middle ensures that even pitch is maintained from the motor to the bow pulpit. I constructed the cover out of TopGun, an 11.5 oz. acrylic-coated woven polyester.


The second and far more labor-intensive project was the construction of a winter cover for a Cape Dory 25D, also out of TopGun. The boat is stored mast up, so constructing the cover required careful measurements and extra detail work to seal around shrouds and stays.

I ordered 37 yards of material for the CD25D cover and had only a few scraps left over when I finished. Normally I like to have more extra material on hand just in case, but from a cost perspective, it came out perfectly. The cover took far more time than I anticipated, and there’s no doubt that I came out on the losing end of this one. This was also the first time I used TopGun. It’s certainly a durable fabric, but it is very slippery, which means that feeding it smoothly through the machine can be a challenge. It’s also quite stiff, so a big pile in a small space can make for frustrating sewing. I wouldn’t use it as cover material for a bigger boat, that’s for sure. I designed the cover in two pieces that attach at the mast and shrouds. The two sections are rolled and ready for installation in the picture below.


photo 2

Winter cover for a CD25D

This and That

It’s hard to believe July is nearing its end (why, oh why, do you have to go so fast summer?!) I’ve been keeping myself busy with a few projects here and there. A month ago I said goodbye to my trusty Sailrite LSZ-1 sewing machine and hello to a new long-arm industrial ziz-zag machine, as well as a dedicated heavy-duty straight-stitch machine. The new long-arm has already completed two projects: a 7oz jib for an Ericson 29 and an 8oz staysail for Ariel. Working with the new machine has been a significant improvement over the LSZ-1 in terms of underarm space and needle penetration. The only time it struggled was while sewing the webbing in the thick corner assemblies during the final stages, and I think the issue had more to do with presser foot lift than cloth thickness, which approached 100 oz in some places.  Here are a few detail pics of Ariel’s staysail construction:

IMG_3603 Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 8.22.53 AM

Pictures of the staysail flying will have to wait till my parents return from their cruising. (Yes, I know, too bad the staysail wasn’t done before they left).

My trusty Sailrite LSZ-1. We made dodgers, sails, biminis, and performed scores of sail repairs together.

My trusty Sailrite LSZ-1. We made dodgers, sails, biminis, and performed scores of sail repairs together. It’s hard to believe just how much I was able to do with this little workhorse. Oh, and the timing was still perfect when I sold it.

Most recently, I’ve been working on a main and jib for an ’88 Hobie Holder MKII that I picked up a few years ago. Once those sails are done, the Hobie will be for sale to offset the cost of my new machine.

We got in a short sailing trip up the coast before I started an intensive language course. We made it as far north as Grand Haven, then returned home for the Fourth. (Pics to follow).

All in all, it’s been a fairly productive summer. No major trips for the boys and me, but my parents (and their fur babies, as they call the dogs) are having a fun time working their way north. Who knows, maybe Carrie, the boys and I will drive north and relieve my parents of the return trip south. We shall see.

Sprucing up the Trinka

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Sometimes the little projects are the most gratifying.

I brought the Trinka home after our summer trip so I could polish and wax the hull – something I hadn’t had a chance to do before leaving. Once I’d done that, I couldn’t stop myself from adding a covestripe to dress her up a little. And dress her up it did. So, I figured I might as well put some Cetol on the teak to go with the shiny hull and dressy covestripe.

Well, you can’t have a pretty dink that doesn’t have a decent cover, and we’d been talking about how nice it would be to have one to keep rainwater out and to keep her dry during towing, so I contacted my canvas guy (that’s me, by the way), made some measurements, and went to work. By the next day I had a sweet little cover.

And here it is, with step-by-step photos:

Looking pretty with her new covestripe and Cetoled teak.

Looking pretty with her new covestripe and Cetoled teak.

I installed bow bases atop 1/4" Starboard to prevent the bows from gouging the teak.

I installed bow bases atop 1/4″ Starboard to prevent the bows from gouging the teak.

I made Dacron sleeves to hold the bows in place and prevent them from chafing the cover.

I made Dacron sleeves to hold the bows in place and prevent them from chafing the cover.

I repurposed some old Hobie battens as bows.

I repurposed some old Hobie battens as bows.

Insert the bow into the two bases.

Insert the bow into the two bases.

Pull the front of the cover over the bow.

Pull the front of the cover over the bow.

Insert the aft bow in its sleeve.

Insert the aft bow in its sleeve and position bow in sockets.

Pull the back of the cover over the stern.

Pull the back of the cover over the stern.

Slip the edges over the gunwale and into place. Voila!

Slip the edges over the gunwale and into place. Voila!

Enough pitch to shed water and a tight fit.

Enough pitch to shed water and a tight fit.

If you look closely, you can see the stitching for the Dacron sleeve and chafe protection.

If you look closely, you can see the stitching for the Dacron sleeve and chafe protection.

A tie down for the back of the cover.

A tie down for the back of the cover.

I also used a couple pieces of leather I had on hand to replace the old, dried out leather that finished the stern portion of the rub rail.

Old leather removed.

Old leather removed.


New leather tacked in place.

New leather tacked in place.



Ariel gets a new jib

Well, the original thirty-three-year-old jib finally packed it in the other day (July 8) in a moderate 15 knot wind.  Age and UV exposure resulted in a horizontal rip from the clew toward the luff.  We were chugging along when the jib suddenly split with a POP.  We furled it and headed for home under staysail and main.  Once back in harbor, we had a heck of a time removing the jib because it had folded on itself before furling, making it impossible to unfurl the sail to lower it.  To say it came down in shreds is no exaggeration.

Cutting the old jib away.

I got to work on a new jib I had designed over the winter and finished it up on Monday, July 16.  It fits perfectly and performs well.  We got out the other day in about 12 knots.  The jib looked great and allowed us to point higher.  There’s nothing like a nice, crispy new sail.

The new jib pulling nicely.

An Ariel Canvas & Sails original!

Dad models the new jib (with lowered clew).

Project: Updated instruments

I completed this job a couple years ago, but the old WordPress site was compromised and the content deleted.

Ariel came to us with a Nexus Multi that provided wind, depth, and speed information.  We lost the anemometer in a summer storm when the wind was blowing a steady 35kts and gusting to 50kts.  Then the depth transducer started providing intermittent readings (if I’m remembering correctly).  Furthermore, the old instruments were taking up prime backrest real estate on the aft end of the cabin, so it was time for a change.

After removing the old instrument panel, a piece of black acrylic covering two large holes in the cabin, I cleaned the area with solvent before beveling the edges in preparation for new fiberglass.  I laid in a few layers of biaxial cloth patches, faired the surface, then coated it with successive layers of gelcoat pigmented to match the surrounding area.


Holes filled and faired, ready for gelcoat.

The back side of the old holes.

Gelcoat sanded and polished. Ready for new instruments.

Once the gelcoat had cured, I wet sanded with progressively finer grits before finally compounding, polishing, and waxing the area.

Then it was on to drilling new holes to mount the new instruments.  I decided to mount the new instruments on a piece of starboard so I wouldn’t have to cut (and then cover) the interior teak panel.  The instruments are bolted to the starboard, and the starboard is attached to the cabin with six machine screws that thread into holes tapped in the fiberglass and sealed in a bed of 4200.


Old and New: Old holes filled and gel coated; New instruments installed.

Replacing the diesel tank

Our diesel tank – Ariel is hull #7 – is located in the port cockpit locker on a shelf at the forward end of the locker. Contrary to what is printed in the CD manual, Ariel’s diesel tank was 30 gallons, not 43. It was made out of 5052 1/8″ aluminum and secured to the forward locker bulkhead with two aluminum straps. I discovered the leak in the old tank when one of the marina yard workers hollered at me for pumping diesel on the ground during my spring commissioning. Naturally, I told him he was crazy and that there wasn’t anything in the bilge but a little water. I was wrong.

After I confirmed the location of the leaks, I used a reciprocating saw to cut the tank into four sections small enough to fit through the cockpit locker opening. The original tank was 14″ wide and the locker opening is 12.5″ so there was no way to get it out in one piece. The cause of the leak was pitting in the bottom of the old tank that had eventually worked its way through, presumably caused by condensation over the years (yes, we have a fuel/water separator and do our best to keep our tank clean and full). Essentially the tank had weeped diesel onto the shelf on which it was mounted for part of the winter months, eventually dumping about 5 gallons of fuel into the bilge.

I seemed to recall reading about CD owners who cut their cockpit locker opening to fit a new tank, but I was not at all interested in that route, so I designed a tank that would drop through the opening and still provide a reasonable amount of fuel. I drew up a design and sent it to Luther’s. I requested an additional port to accommodate the fuel polishing circuit, which Luther’s added without charge. I also did my best to locate the fittings as close to their original locations so I could drop the tank in and reconnect things without having to make modifications. All three of the fuel fittings have draw tubes to minimize the chance of introducing air into the fuel pickup.

When I installed the new tank my initial plan was to reuse the aluminum straps that secured the old tank by adding shims to account for the narrower dimensions. I quickly scrapped that idea and bought 1/8″ flat aluminum strapping and bent up two straps that conformed to the new tank width.

The new tank is 24 gallons, which is plenty for Lake Michigan. I dropped it in and plumbed it in a couple hours. It was necessary to move the exhaust hose temporarily from the inboard side of the cockpit locker in order to make room for the tank to slide in. I’m very pleased with the quality and finish. It matches my supplied dimensions exactly.

Luther's drawing of the new diesel tank. Great Company!

Luther’s drawing of the new diesel tank. Great Company!

The new diesel tank in place but before the new hold-down brackets had been constructed and installed.

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