Category Archives: Products

Fynspray galley pump – For Sale $175.00

I have an attractive and functional classic brass Fynspray Galley Pump for sale with a recent “rebuild” with a genuine Fynspray Service Kit. The pump works as new. It is a used pump and shows some exterior wear marks – some of which may polish out. See the pictures below. Defender seems to have the best price on these pumps at 299.99. I’m asking $175.00 + shipping.

Feel free to comment here or contact me via email if you’re interested.

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An unflattering review: North Sails U

I attended my first North Sails U sail trim seminar back in February at the invitation of a couple sailing buddies, which seemed like a good opportunity to do something different in the midst of winter, learn some new skills, and spend some time with a few crew members from last summer’s Mac race. Indeed, the best part of the event was spending the day in Chicago and hanging out with the guys. For the most part, the seminar bordered on a grand disappointment.

North Sails is one of the largest sail lofts in the world, so naturally I figured that any presenter endorsed by the North name would likely blow my mind with insight into sail management and trim. Not so. The presentation certainly had some interesting nuggets, but focused primarily on basic sail trim and lacked the depth, organization, and polish I expected from the North name. Too bad, especially when you do a little math and figure out that approximately 60 attendees paid (at least) $99 each for the seminar, which amounts to a cool six grand for less than 8 hours of instruction. Yes, a complimentary North Sails U CD-ROM is included for the price, but it has all the pizzaz of an outdated PowerPoint presentation – you know, the one with lousy graphics, monotonous narration, and uninspiring presentation. It’s way past time for North to invest some of the 6k per seminar in an update. (If the sport of sailing is dying – as our presenter suggested during the seminar – part of it could be blamed on such outdated presentation materials).

So, if you’re thinking you might drop $99+ on a North Sails U seminar, I say spend that money on a lesson that keeps on giving: buy a book! I’ve learned far more from a few good books on the subject of sail trim. Take a gander at these if you’re interested:

Sail Trim: Theory and Practice

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Sail Performance

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Maximum Sail Power

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That’s about $99 worth of books and, frankly, a gift that keeps right on giving.

I also have these in my library and have found them informative and useful:

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And if you’re not interested in those books, I suspect you’d get plenty out of the North Sails book (which they’ll sell at the seminar for an additional $25.00 or so).

At any rate, they’ll be no more North U Sails seminars for this sailor.

FOR SALE: Sta-Lok Fittings

I have a collection of NEW Sta-Lok fittings for sale. Please see the inventory below. I’d be willing to make a deal on the whole lot or on partial lots. Email or comment here if you are interested.

5/32″ wire:
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6 qty – Terminal Studs with 5/16″ threads – $20.00/each (Retail: $28.00/each)
9/32″ wire:
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12 qty – Fork with 7/16″ pin – 45.00/each (Retail: $67.00/each)
6 qty – Eye with 1/2″ pin hole – 35.00/each (Retail: $44.00/each)
8 qty – Terminal Stud w/ 1/2″ thread – $45.00/each (Retail: $53.00/each)
5/16″ wire:
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12 qty – Fork with 1/2″ pin – $64.00/each (Retail: $80.00/each)
7 qty – Eye with 5/8″ pin hole – $45.00/each (Retail: $66.00/each)
10 qty – Terminal Stud w/ 1/2″ thread – 50.00/each (Retail: $62.00)
3/8″ wire: (CD36 Bobstay, by the way)
14 qty – Fork with 5/8″ pin – $76.00/each (Retail: $100.00)
2 qty – Eye with 5/8″ pin hole – $67.00/each (Retail: $81.00)
8 qty – Terminal Stud w/ 5/8″ thread – $70.00 (Retail: $89.00) 

And just in case you have 7/16″ rigging :):

7/16″ wire Eye with with 3/4″ pin hole – $100.00 (Retail: $200.00)

LED Bulb Upgrade for an Old Guest Anchor Light

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Many boats use masthead-mounted anchor lights, but some may still be using the older Guest anchor light (pictured above) that hangs in the rigging. While the Guest lights don’t exude the charm and tradition of a paraffin lantern, they have the advantage of being seen more easily than masthead lights, which tend to blend in with a starry sky or tower high above a boat powering nearby, and the large 6v battery will last for a couple hundred hours. The standard incandescent bulbs, however, leave a little to be desired in terms of luminosity.

Good news: There is an affordable LED replacement that not only burns longer with less energy but also burns brighter than the incandescent. I purchased and installed one prior to our month-long summer cruise, and it worked well. It was much easier to spot from shore in a crowded anchorage than the old incandescent, and it burns as bright as many masthead lights.

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There may be other suppliers out there, but I purchased mine for 6.95 + shipping from eLite, part T3-1/4 (10mm) Miniature Bayonet (BA9s) Base LED Bulb. The company responded promptly to my order, notifying me of invoice receipt and shipment date. The bulb arrived quickly and well packaged. Time will tell just how long the bulb will last, but we spent some 25 nights at anchor already this summer.

Spin-Tec Roller Furling Review

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The following is reprinted from an older Ariel blog. It was originally written about four years ago. We are still just as satisfied with our Spin-Tec furlers.

Simplicity and technology need not be at odds with each other. Take the technology of Dacron or fiberglass. Both of those bits of technology have proven simple and yet remarkably durable and efficient, making owning, sailing, and maintaining a boat simpler – and more enjoyable – than ever. Now, if cotton and oakum are your thing, read no further. When roller furling emerged on the market, traditionalists viewed it with skepticism, and for good reason. After all, why complicate things? And early furling systems did have their problems. Not only were they bulky and expensive, but they often jammed at the worst possible moment, leaving skippers to watch helplessly as their headsail flogged itself to pieces or, worse, drew greedy gulps of wind as the boat thundered out of control toward another boat, or a dock, or…. Modern furling units have resolved most of those issues and are much more reliable.

There are a number of roller furling units on the market, a few of which have received excellent reviews and some that have not; some are well-known and others unfamiliar. Finding the right combination of quality without publicity could translate to major savings on a great product. One of those lesser-known but quality units is Spin-Tec. We met Betsy, a Spin-Tec representative, at the Strictly Sail show in Chicago last year where she demonstrated the Triumph 2000 system and discussed with us its features and construction.

We were immediately drawn to the simplicity of the design. Unlike most roller furlers, Spin-Tec furlers do not use ball bearings. Instead, the unit – drum and foil – rides on Delrin bushings. Additionally, the unit does not utilize an upper swivel between the headsail halyard and the head of the sail, meaning that the whole thing rotates as a unit so there are fewer parts to wear out and less likelihood of failure. This design eliminates the weak spot of traditional roller furlers. Upper swivels are not only subject to wear, but they can cause halyard wrap if the headsail halyard is not led to the furler at an appropriate angle. Typically, this involves adding hardware at the masthead to achieve a specified angle between the halyard and the furler. Halyard wrap renders a furling unit inoperable, and potentially at the worst time. Finding a unit that eliminated this problem was a priority.

This design certainly is simpler than many of the units on the market, but it’s not without its complications, most notably the inability to hoist or remove a headsail without going aloft to secure the head to a stainless steel bail that is welded to the upper part of the extrusion, or masthead tube. To address this, Spin-Tec sells a device, a sort of car-assembly, called a halyard accessory that rides on the foil and allows users to change sails from the deck with the aid of the halyard. The unit certainly seems handy, and functioned well in Betsy’s demonstration, but the additional expense of $300 is tough to swallow, especially since we have no need to change the headsail and don’t mind a trip aloft. There is an additional drawback to the halyard accessory: It uses a meathook-shaped piece of stainless steel to hook the bail on the masthead tube, thus securing the head of the jib. Imagining that pointy piece of steel aloft immediately conjured visions of a shredded drifter.

The standard roller furling assembly is still a slick, streamlined unit, and the fact that it came with everything needed for setup was equally attractive. When we looked at comparable units by other manufacturers, the advertised price was only the starting point. And not only were their starting prices higher, but the necessary add-ons meant that we would get a lot less bang for our buck. Like most sailors, we are price-conscious and must spread our boat units as far as possible without compromising quality. Spin-Tec’s quality and pricing meant that we were able to buy two furlers – staysail and jib – for only a little more than the price of one furler by big-name companies like Schaefer (which was second on our list) or Harken.

Spin-Tec furlers differ from other furlers in their assembly. Rather than rivets to secure foil sections, Spin-Tec includes aluminum channel inserts that are glued in place to join foil sections seamlessly. The theory behind this is that the entire furler is in compression when in use so there is no need for fasteners. This certainly speeds and eases assembly, and seems plenty stout, but only time will tell how well the system will hold up. I should add that the aluminum channel inserts fit snugly within the extrusion, so the glue is mostly redundant and a gap-filler to ensure a snug fit. The unit is also designed to fit over existing fittings, so there is no need to cut or modify the rigging. Simply remove the turnbuckle from the lower swage fitting and begin sliding foil sections toward the upper swage fitting, joining sections as you go.

During assembly, five Delrin bushings are inserted at regular intervals in each foil section to secure the furler to the headstay, ensure smooth operation, and eliminate metal-on-metal contact. Spin-Tec includes a steel rod that is used to push each bushing to its proper location within the foil. This process involved quite a bit of grunting and resulted in a couple of blisters. The instructions suggest that moderate force may be required to push each bushing to its seat – i.e., projections within the extrusion. Either “moderate force” is an understatement or I’m a total wuss. Yes, there were some bushings that went into place with “moderate force,” but that was the exception and not the rule. Most bushings required a fair bit of coaxing, which occasionally involved a few taps with a hammer. The upshot of all that effort is that it’s unlikely the bushings will ever shift out of position.

I completed assembly of both furlers over a two-day period, totaling about six hours. This system is the only system I’ve assembled, so I can’t make any comparisons to other brands. The assembly did catch the attention of the harbor master and a few boat owners. The harbor master commented on the size (diameter) of the foil sections and the lack of rivets, shrugged his shoulders and left. The double-grooved foil, shaped like an airfoil, is elliptical and slightly larger than most.

Adjusting headstay tension once the furler is in place is accomplished easily. The drum assembly of the furler slides over the extrusion and the lower tube, and is secured with six machine screws. Accessing the turnbuckle requires removing the six screws and sliding the drum up the extrusion where it can be locked in place. With the drum out of the way, the turnbuckle is adjusted easily.

The furler’s open-drum design is simplicity itself, and good lead placement results in a smooth, tight coil of line. This is another feature that sets Spin-Tec furlers apart from other brands that use closed or semi-closed drums that can make clearing furling line jams impossible or, at best, frustrating and time consuming. Because the Spin-Tec drum is open, however, some tension needs to be kept on the furling line when the sail is unfurled lest the line work its way off of the drum. Simply cleating the furling line prevents this from happening. We installed a genoa track-mounted jam cleat for each furling line on the starboard side and another, mounted to port, for the staysail outhaul since it’s set on a boom. The kit included four fairleads, which was not enough for Ariel’s length. Betsy from Spin-Tec happily sent us four additional fairleads that I placed in strategic locations to minimize chafe and provide smooth operation of the furling line, 60′ of 7/16″ double-braid nylon that comes with the kit and is easy on the hands.

Rigging the furling unit for the staysail was only slightly more involved than the jib. Beyond the standard assembly and furling line routing, we needed to rig an outhaul that would allow us to maintain the boom-mounted staysail’s self-tending feature. We already had a block on the aft end of the staysail boom for an adjustable outhaul that would redirect the line forward toward the staysail boom pedestal. From there, I added a small block to the staysail gooseneck and routed the outhaul outboard to the rail-mounted block included in the Spin-Tec kit. The staysail outhaul then travels aft through standard fairleads where it terminates at a jam cleat mounted on the genoa track. Unfurling the staysail requires uncleating the line to the furling drum, then hauling in on the outhaul. Furling the staysail is just a reversal of these steps, the staysail boom topping lift keeping the boom under control when the sail is furled. This setup has the added benefit of making it possible to adjust staysail outhaul tension from the cockpit.

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We logged several daysails and a two-week cruise last season. The furlers performed flawlessly, saving time and energy, and relieved us from going forward to ready or douse the staysail and jib. The units spin freely and easily thanks to the large diameter of the drums. The system’s quirks, such as they are, don’t cramp our style any. The simplicity of the Spin-Tec design would probably appeal less to sailors who expect to change headsails frequently, but for the cruising crowd it’s a great system: we set the jib and staysail at the beginning of the season, tensioning the luff with a Spectra seizing at the tack, and there they remain until haulout. The absence of the upper swivel also means that we have a free halyard, which we have used for our drifter. (Note: Spin-Tec does offer a furler for race-minded sailors, the R/C 1000)

Trinka 10 Cover

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I am now offering my Trinka 10 custom cover for sale.

  • Covers come complete with bows, sockets, and mounting instructions.
  • Constructed of breathable, water-resistant SurLast marine fabric
  • Protects teak
  • Prevents rainwater from swamping the dinghy
  • Secure enough to use while towing
  • Easy to install
  • $300 shipped
  • Submit an order via email

A Few Observations about the Trinka 10

Last fall we acquired a used but cared for 2000 Trinka 10 sailing dinghy (which you can read about here) and immediately splashed it in the water for a sail. Sadly, the shakedown did not go without incident: the mast step broke loose from its resinous base in a moderate breeze, allowing the mast to tip forward and aft precariously. That was the end of the Trinka fun for the fall. I brought the boat home and put it away for the winter.

This spring, as soon as the temperatures were suitable for fiberglass work, I set the PVC pipe insert that supports the mast in a bed of thickened epoxy and then wrapped the pipe with two pieces of biaxial cloth to secure it fore and aft well onto the hull. Here’s a slightly blurry picture of the repair. Working through a small inspection port made the job a tad difficult and getting a decent picture tough.

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For a dinghy touted as “The best rowing/sailing dinghy in the world,” I was a bit disappointed by the marginal installation that led to the break. So, here are a few of my observations on the Trinka 10 – the good and the bad – for those who have one or might be thinking about buying one:

1. The Mast Step: Wrapping the base of the PVC pipe step in fiberglass cloth is an easy and inexpensive job. I recommend doing it. Additionally, I believe that water ingress into the advertised “airtight…oil and gasoline-tight” chamber also contributed to the failure during freeze/thaw cycles, so keep that chamber dry, which leads to the second point…

2. Inspection Ports: The Trinka came to us with a standard screw-in inspection port in the stern floatation chamber, but the bow chamber opening was sealed and covered with a piece of what looked like hull material. I removed that and installed a screw-in inspection port to match the one in the stern. During our recent summer cruise, both chambers, initially dry, had water in them. They are not air or water-tight – at least not anymore – and it isn’t due to the new inspection port. Water leaks into the forward chamber through the mast step and into the stern chamber through either the self-bailer or the wood reinforcement on the transom. Of course, it’s entirely possible that water finds its way in around the screws that secure the stainless rub strips to the forefoot and the rear skeg.

3. Hull Construction: This item is related to #2. It appears that Trinkas are constructed in two parts: an outer hull and an inner liner that are glued together. This makes for a nicely finished interior, but it isn’t the most durable, in my opinion. Such construction makes it possible for there to be voids between the two pieces. Water will invariably find its way into any voids. Water will then be trapped in those voids. In northern climates subject to freezing temperatures, that water will freeze and potentially cause damage. Laying the boats up with solid fiberglass might not be as pretty, but it’s more durable.

I should also note that I found a few areas on the exterior hull where the gel coat seemed to be poorly adhered. I’ve seen this before on other boats, and they are little round cracks that will shed a small piece of gel coat if picked at, leaving laminate exposed. I’m not sure what causes this, but a couple spots came loose when I pressure washed the bottom. Perhaps that’s to be expected on a 13-year-old boat. I don’t know.

4. Towing Eyes: There are two standard towing eyes, one high and the other low near to the waterline. They are well secured and stout. The upper eye, however, is inaccessible from inside without drilling through the inner hull liner. The lower eye is accessible through the forward floatation chamber, but not without some difficulty – or a really long arm. This may not be an issue, but such an important piece of hardware should be easy to access and replace.

5.Skeg: The Trinka 10 does not have a full skeg. She has a skeg in her forefoot and skeg in her stern, but she is flat on the bottom in her middle section. We discovered this summer while using her as a tender that the bow has a tendency to dig in, sending her off to port or starboard. The addition of a full skeg would mean better, straighter rowing and towing. All things considered, however, she does row and tow very well. But she could do both better with a full skeg.

6. Automatic Bailer: These things are very helpful – pop it open when towing or hanging the dinghy on davits, and it will purge shipped water  – but my goodness are they painful, especially when you’re using her as a sailing dinghy and sitting in the hull. It would have been nice if Trinka had built a small well to contain the bailer. As is, a cushion is the best option for avoiding scrapes and cuts from the sharp corners and protruding screw heads.

7. Gunwale Fender: These things are great! It’s so nice to have a soft gunwale to protect the mothership’s gel coat, especially when kids or inexperienced crew are at the oars. The fender is a definite plus.

IMG_80418. Sailing Rig: Why anyone would buy a Trinka without the sailing rig is beyond me. Towing a tender is necessary at times, but rarely fun. Adding a sailing rig to your tender actually makes it fun. The rig is well designed, easy to set up, and functional. The sail even has cringles for reefing. The only criticism I have is that there is no provision for retaining the mast in the event of capsize if you don’t have a boom vang rigged – and a boom vang is just too much unnecessary hardware for this boat. I’ve taken to rigging a retaining line through a block at the base of the mast and through the cam cleat on the forward floatation chamber.

9. Rowing: My two boys learned how to row this summer aboard the Trinka and had a blast. She’s easy to row and well behaved. The addition of a skeg would be nice, but she’s fine as is. We loaded two men and two small boys in the dinghy and rowed to and from shore several times. We stayed dry, had enough room, and looked good in the process!

10. Buoyancy/Stability: As far as attractively designed fiberglass/rigid dinghies go, this one is fairly stable. Of course a flatter bottom and broader ends would mean more stability, but they would also mean an uglier dink. For a pretty dinghy, this one has good stability. I was able to haul myself (157 lbs) aboard amidship over the gunwale without taking on much water. And I could just about stand on the outboard edge of the middle seat without shipping water or flipping the dink. Her bow is plenty buoyant, but very unstable. I stepped from the breasthook to Ariel’s transom several times, but I had to be very careful about maintaining balance lest the dinghy tip precariously.

IMG_826911. Towing: We’ve towed the Trinka over 300 miles without incident. She tows well, provided enough painter (tow rope) and proper placement for the sea conditions. When approaching harbor we haul her in close to Ariel’s transom where she sits very happily. Offshore we tow her at least 20-30′ astern. In following seas we towed her farther astern to keep her from surfing down waves and into the boat. She stays relatively dry while towing, although I think her daggerboard slot tends to ship water at higher speeds.

Overall, she’s a great little dinghy that performs her tasks well and attractively. I loved having her along on our summer cruise, and my boys loved rowing and sailing her around harbor. She also proved to be a good little fishing boat for two young boys.

Would I buy another Trinka? Yes, but not at full price. She’s a good dinghy, but perhaps not the only (or best) option out there for the cruising sailor. A Lyle Hess-designed Fatty Knees is another option, and perhaps a better one. Finding one at an affordable price might be tough, however. As always, it’s about compromise. Even towing a dinghy is a compromise between easy sailing and more convenient access to shore. But that’s a topic for another post.

Where’s the glory?

When you discover something great, you have to share it.  Of course, how widely things get shared on the blogosphere depends upon who’s watching and reading your site.  In my case, not many.  Brittany and Scott of Windtraveler, on the other hand, get lots of traffic.  And that’s why their recent post about the Aeropress (and giveaway) has their readers buzzing.  Well, here’s my plug for the Aeropress, written a couple years ago, lifted from the old Ariel blog.  And yes, Brittany & Scott, Aeropress makes one bitchin’ cuppa joe!

Bob Bitchin Lats & Atts sailors we are not. Sundowners, Tommy Bahama print shirts, raft ups or rendezvous in crowded BVI anchorages, and pirate costume parties are completely unfamiliar – and equally undesirable.

Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate the “finer” things aboard. For us, though, the finer things of life aboard include reliable ground tackle, a remote anchorage, a well-maintained auxiliary, solitude, kerosene lanterns, crisp sails, solitude, a fine hull and a stout rig. And though we indulge in a few areas, generally they enhance the boat’s performance. For example, last season we updated to roller furling for the jib and staysail. One thing in which we unabashedly indulge, however, is our coffee. We take our coffee seriously.

Today as I sat sipping my morning cup in the middle of a cold Michigan winter, with memories of summer sailing swirling through my mind, I thought I’d share our method for brewing an excellent cup of coffee aboard. So forget the pirates and buxom women, this is about solitude, sophistication, and a good cup of coffee to make the moment all the more enjoyable.

Good coffee starts with good beans. Coffee Fool’s Velvet Hammer is about as good as it comes via mail order – and it’s certainly much better than that other brand that so many swear by. Short of roasting your own, or finding a local roaster that you like, Coffee Fool is the ticket. Their coffee is fresh, they ship quickly, and they have a variety of blends to suit individual tastes.

Good beans aren’t worth…, well, a hill of beans without a decent brewing method. If you swear by drip, a percolator, or French Press, you’ll soon swear them off once you’ve tried the AeroPress. Distributed by the maker of Aerobie frisbees, the AeroPress is compact, easy to use and clean, and a mighty fine brewing method. The critical factors of time, temperature, and ratio are easily controlled to brew an excellent cup of coffee every time. Using a chamber, plunger, and micro-filter, the AeroPress allows the user to avoid bitterness while still extracting full flavor.

 

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In addition to the AeroPress and coffee, you’ll need a grinder and a measuring glass of some sort. I find my old espresso cup works well. Here’s how it works:

Step One:

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Insert micro filter into cap and screw cap to bottom of chamber.

Step Two:

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Place chamber on measuring glass and prepare coffee.

Step Three:

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Add beans to grinder and begin grinding. The AeroPress instructions include recommendations for measuring. I’ve discovered that nearly filling the grinder with beans gives me enough grounds to make two cups of coffee to my taste. You’ll want a fairly fine grind, much finer than drip or French Press. Experimentation is the key here: too fine and it’s impossible to press the coffee; too coarse and you won’t get the flavor. Although I used an electric grinder here, we use the Zassenhaus knee mill aboard.

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Step Four:

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Using the supplied funnel, dump ground coffee into AeroPress chamber.

Step Five:

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Heat water to approximately 170 degrees and fill plunger to appropriate amount.

Step Six:

Add water to grounds in chamber.

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Stir for 10 seconds.

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Press.

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Step Seven:

You’ve just made a double shot of espresso. Pour out single shot of espresso into your mug.

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Step Eight:

Fill mug with hot water to make a cup of Americano. Enjoy!

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Clean up:

Unscrew filter cage, eject compacted “hockey puck” grounds, rinse. That’s it! Total time to brew two cups of coffee is about five minutes.

Now that’s bitchin’!

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