Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Sailing in Charleston

The first half of summer has brought great sailing weather in Charleston this year. After the lighter than normal winds for Race Week, we've had plenty throughout the first half of the season. We're continuing to enjoy racing with the Charleston Ocean Racing Association (CORA) The offshore races were a blast - literally on the way to Bohicket we blew out our spinnaker which put a little bit of a damper on the rest of the weekend but we still had a great time. Several other boats offered us their spare spinnaker for the trip home but we declined; at that point I was a little risk averse. The trip home was a light air day but we did see a huge pod of dolphins just off of Folly Beach.

Summer Series I has been windy and we have started about half of the races with a reef in the main. We've been sailing better as the season has progressed and we ended up in 9th place in a fleet of 21 boats. The crew has become a little more stable and we're all more comfortable with the boat. I'm still trying how to keep boat speed up when heading downwind and I'd like to get us to point a little higher (doesn't everyone).

We've done some fun sailing as well; although we raced the Summer Sailstice race it was mostly a family crew (as our results demonstrated) and it was a beautiful night for a sail.

Maintenance and upgrades have been a major part of the summer. I finally found a solution I like to make the propane locker ABYC compliant. After looking at boatyard proposals and reading a lot of blogs I ended up making the modifications myself.

I ended up putting in an access hatch on the deck and sealing the old hatch so that the locker no longer opens to the bilge. The hardest part for me was starting to cut a hole in a perfectly good deck! This went against every instinct I have.

I started by drilling a couple holes up from the inside of the locker to locate the hatch position on the deck. As you can see by the picture, it was snug fit. Any larger hatch would have required cutting into the coaming and entailed considerably more work. I started down that route initially but thought better of it before actually making any cuts. I ended up with room for a 10" hatch which will accommodate a 4.25 lb (9.1 inch diameter tank).  Initially I wanted to be able to have a larger tank but on reflection decided that several of the smaller tanks would be easier to manage.

After cutting the hole and drilling out all of the screw points, I glassed around the edge of the hole of the balsa cored deck with West System epoxy to prevent any moisture getting into the core. I also enlarged each of the screw holes and filled them with thickened West System epoxy.

Final fitting of the hatch required a little sanding of the hole and trimming some of the flange of the port where it came against the coaming. Aside from safety the biggest benefit is that I no longer have to crawl into the aft lazerette to turn on the propane!