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Sailing knowledge article: Boat maintenance advice, Winterizing and Practical advice
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Fitting Out and Laying up
The small yacht owner who makes a practice of fitting out his own craft not only saves money but also acquires a good working knowledge of marline-spike seamanship. He will, moreover, ascertain the condition of every item of his vessel's gear and thus reduce the possibility of breakage when he comes to sail her again. It is certainly a job that takes up a good deal of time, but if lie commences to refit as soon as he has laid up the boat in the autumn it will help him to get through the winter months when the weather is unsuitable for yachting.
Before going into the question of fitting out, however, it will perhaps be as well to say a few words about laying up. If practicable, the yacht should bo hauled out of the water and laid up under cover, for then she will get a thorough drying during the winter and when commissioned the following spring will be much more lively than she would if laid up in a mud berth. A yacht laid up under cover will, of course, have her mast lifted before she is craned out. Another advantage of having the vessel under cover is that fitting out operations are much facilitated as one is not so dependent upon the weather.
Unfortunately at many places where yachts are laid up there are no means of hauling a boat of, say, five tons out of the water, and in such circumstances the owner has no alternative but to lay her up in a mud berth. If left thus exposed to the elements, steps should be taken to protect the craft from the ravages of the weather. A tarpaulin large enough to cover her right over may cost the best part of ten pounds, but it will last for years ami is well worth the money. It should be spread over a ridge-pole securely fixed at a height of about three feet above the deck, the ends being left open so that the vessel has plenty of ventilation.
The yacht should be placed in her mud berth at the top of a spring tide and securely moored " all fours." When she has been berthed you should commence to strip her. First unbend the sails, and if they are perfectly dry, stow them away in the store together with the cabin cushions, bedding, etc. Place a quantity of newspapers among the sails in case there should be rats or mice in the store. Such vermin much prefer paper to anything else for making their nests and if they can get plenty they are more likely to leave your sails alone.
Next turn your attention to
the yacht's gear
. As you take down each halyard, coil it up neatly and tie on a label bearing the name of the halyard so that there may be no risk of confusion when you come to rig the craft again. Having stripped her aloft, unship the boom, gaff, and bowsprit, with any other spars and such articles as sweeps, boathook, etc., and place them in the spar shed. If prudent you will fasten them together and tie on a label bearing the yacht's name. Otherwise, they may get mixed up with the spars of some other vessel and cause confusion. When the mast is left standing it is usual to leave the shrouds and forestav also, but everything else that can be moved should be stored under cover.
Now turn your attention to the fittings below decks. Every- thing should be removed and stowed away in the store. Turn out all the lockers, and having sorted the contents, put in boxes the things you want to keep. Cooking utensils, after being thoroughly dried, should be greased on the outside to prevent rust. Stoves should be emptied and thoroughly cleaned and all lamps treated in a similar manner. Such articles as plate, cutlery, and table linen had better be taken to your home as they will probably winter better there than in a store. Having cleaned out the cabin and lockers, lift the floorboards, and if the yacht has any internal ballast it should be removed and taken ashore. When the ballast has been taken out you will be able thoroughly to clean the inside of the vessel. Use a pointed stick to remove the dirt from inaccessible places and then give the bottom inside the vessel a good scrubbing. When the interior of the boat is dry give her a coat of black varnish, applied hot, from the keelson up to the underside of the bunks. This will not only make her sweet and clean but also tend to preserve the wood. Before the ballast is replaced it should be cleaned. If of lead a good scrubbing will be all that is necessary, but if of iron the pigs should receive a coat of black varnish, after chipping off the worst of the rust. During the winter it is best to leave the floorboards up and all lockers open so that there is every facility for ventilation. If the brasswork has not been treated with linseed oil and petrol as I suggested in an earlier chapter it should be protected by a thick coating of tallow. The mast, if left in situ, should receive a coat of white lead and grease, thickly mixed, and the shrouds and forestay, if left on the boat, will be all the better for a coat of petrol and linseed oil, which can be applied with a brush.
It' it is the intention to renew the running gear there is no reason why the new gear should not be made at the owner's home where he will be able to work under more comfortable conditions. A keen yachtsman can pass a very pleasant evening sitting over the fire making new halyards and sheets, and it will help to pass the winter. He should commence on the blocks. It is best to attend to the sheaves before starting to scrape the shells. If the sheaves have plain bearings all that is necessary is to knock out the pins and clean off any rust; but before replacing the sheaves blacklead them well. If the blocks have patent sheaves they Bhould be lubricated with cycle oil. The ordinary three-cornered scraper is rather awkward to handle on so small a surface as a block, and an old knife that is fairly sharp will be found a much more convenient implement. Scrape oil all the old varnish, and when the blocks are quite clean and white rub them down thoroughly with coarse glass paper. They should then receive at least three coats of really good varnish applied thinly, care being taken that each coat is thoroughly dry before the next is put on.
Having finished the blocks you can turn your attention to the
. If some of the halyards are in good condition they can be made to serve for another season by turning them end for end. If, however, they have had considerable use and you feel at all doubtful about their soundness it will be prudent to replace them. Having measured up the old stuff and thus ascertained the quantity of new rope you will require, purchase rather more than actually necessary, as it is desirable to carry a stock of new rope on board so that you are in a position to replace any halyard or sheet that may carry away. The rope should be of four strands and nothing but the best yacht manila should be bought. Remember, when ordering, that manila rope is measured by circumference and not the diameter. The rope should be a size smaller than that for which the blocks are intended, so that it may render freely when wet. The best blocks have internal metal strops, but if yours have rope strops see that the strops are thoroughly sound. If they seem very dry they have probably perished and should be renewed.
In making your
measure off new rojje against the old and then turn in the necessary splices as neatly as you can. Each strand should be dipped twice, then halved, and dipped again. Having completed the splice and pulled the strands tight, roll it under your foot until it is smooth and round. Then serve it neatly, laying on the service with a serving board. The new strops can be made of either tarred hemp (three-strand) or, if you prefer it, you can make selvagee strops which are very neat and strong. Instructions for making strops will be found in the chapter on knotting and splicing. The only objection to selvagee strops is that they have to be covered and their condition cannot subsequently be ascertained without removing the covering. The covering may be of either canvas or leather sewn on, and in this connection it should be noted that leather should be sewn on when wet, as it will then shrink tightly on to the strop when it dries. In making a new strop take care that it is only just large enough for the block, as it is sure to stretch a little. If you make it too easy a fit the block will drop out when the strop has stretched.
the cabin gear
was not overhauled before laying up it should be attended to during the winter. You will probably find many little jobs, such as enamelling the tins in which you keep tea, coffee, and sugar; carpentering jobs ; repairs to cushions, etc.
Now is the time to make and fit that little cupboard you have been thinking of putting up in the fo'cas'le for so long, and possibly you can induce your womenfolk to make new curtains for the cabin. Anyhow, you are sure to find lots of little things that require attention, and it is much better to get them done during the winter whilst you have plenty of time on your hands. The next job that will claim your attention is scraping and varnishing the spars. If possible you should do this under cover as you will then be independent of the weather. First exam.jne the spars for cracks. If you find any large transverse cracks the spar should be condemned and replaced. Small longi- tudinal cracks do not matter, but they should be filled with white lead to keep out the weather. It is customary to scrape spars with a three-cornered scraper, sharpening the edge from time to time with a file. This rough and ready method of sharpening is certainly a quick one, but it results in a rather rough edge. I find that much better results are obtained by sharpening the scraper on an oilstone, like a chisel. If the spars are in good condition, all that is necessary is to remove the old varnish and rub down with glasspaper. Should the weather have got into the spar, however, you may have a lot of trouble in getting the spar clean, as a certain amount of wood will have to be scraped away. In such circumstances I think it is best to use a small plane set very fine. This may seem rather drastic, but I don't think you will cut away any more wood than you would with a scraper. Some men use pieces of broken glass for scraping spars and get very good results, but it is a slow and tedious process. I have an idea that a patent razor blade, mounted in some sort of handle, might make a very efficient scraper if used carefully, and I mean to try it some day. When scraping a spar be careful to work away from any knots in the wood, or otherwise you will find that you are scraping against the grain. If the old varnish on a spar seems quite hard and good and the weather has not eaten into it at all, it may not be necessary to scrape it at all. Probably a little nibbing down with pumice powder and a damp cloth will do all that is needed. After the spars have been well nibbed down with glasspaper they can be varnished. At least three coats should be applied, and if it is the intention to keep the yacht in commission for the greater part of the year, it will be wise to put on a fourth coat. The varnishing should be done on bright dry days and each coat allowed to set hard before the next is applied.
You should now turn your attention to the cabin, for outside work is better left to the last as vou will probably find more settled weather as the spring advances. The first thing to do below deckB Is to get the ballast stowed. Try and get the pigs in the same places that they occupied before so that the trim of the yacht is not altered. Having shipped the ballast and refitted the floorboards, you will be in a position to work in comparative comfort. If vou are going to re-paint the cabin, you will first have to decide whether it is necessary to burn of! the old paint or if a good rubbing down with pumice will suffice. Should the old paint have blistered very much you will not be able to produce good results unless you bum it off. This can be done quite easily with the aid of a blow lamp and scraper, although it is a rather tedious job. After the old paint has been burnt off, rub down with glasspaper to get a smooth surface. Then put on a coat of priming, two coats of paint, and finally a coat of enamel, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before the next is applied. Should the old paint be in good condition but dirty, rub it down with pumice and then apply a coat of paint and one of enamel.
the under side of the deck, any necessary caulking should be attended to. Having finished the interior decoration, attention can be turned to outside work. The first job to be tackled should be the mast. If there are any cracks in the spar they should be stopped with white lead, which will keep out the weather and prevent rot. Having done this, the mast should be carefully scraped, com- mencing from the head and working downwards. You will have to go aloft in a bo'sun's chair to scrape the upper part of the mast. Having scraped the spar quite clean, rub it down well with glass paper and apply four coats of varnish. You will of course have scraped the hoops at the same time as the mast, and when you varnish them keep them apart by slinging them on a string. When the varnish on the mast is dry, give the rigging another coat of linseed oil and petrol.
of the average small yacht are too thin to keep tight unless covered, and it is the usual practice to cover them with either canvas or linoleum. Personally I prefer the latter, which, if properly stuck down, will last for years with fair treatment. Should your decks be uncovered, it will be necessary to remove the varnish placed on them for protection during the winter. Any of the many alkaline preparations on the market will remove the varnish, but you should not apply the stuff in strong sunlight, as it might under such conditions turn the decks black. The best plan is to put on the preparation overnight and wash it of! with fresh water early the following morning. You can in this manner get your decks beautifully white, but if you are wise you will varnish them as they will then keep tight without so much attention.
All bright work on deck, such as the skylight or cabin-top, covering board, king plank, well coamings, fore hatch, and tiller, must be scraped and varnished, three coats of the verv best varnish being put on.
By the time you have done all this the weather will probably be fayourable for outside painting. First paint the well and inside of the bulwarks and then give all the ironwork a coat of aluminium paint. This may not have much protective value but it looks extremely smart and gives a finish to a yacht's appearance.
To paint the topsides
you will probably find it more convenient to leg the yacht on a hard. She will have to go on to the hard anyhow for her bottom to be dressed with anti-fouling coin- position, so you may as well do both jobs in comparative comfort. Having berthed the vessel on the hard in a position where she can be left with safety for several tides, commence operations on the topsides. If the old paint is rough or much blistered, burn it off in the same way that you did that in the cabin. Then apply a coat of priming, two of paint, and one of enamel. Some people dispense with the second coat of paint, but if the boat is to be in commission until late in the year I think it is necessary. If you burn off the topside paint be careful to leave the water- line well defined, or otherwise you may not be able to get it straight when you apply the new paint.
, after it has been scrubbed, should receive two coats of good anti-fouling composition. Use the anti-foiding composition that is most popular in the district, as it has probably been proved by experience to be the most suitable for those waters. Don't on any account try and put on the composition by yourself, for if you do you will merely waste your time and money. Applying anti-fouler is a two men job, as it is absolutely essential that the stuff is stirred all the time. Most anti-fouling compositions dry almost as fast as you can put the stuff on, and so you can start on the second coat as soon as you have finished the first.
You will now have almost completed your refitting operations, as all that remains is to reeve the running gear and bend the sails. Should your rigging be set up with lanyards, examine them carefully, and if you have the slightest doubt about their condition, lit new lanyards. Also examine the seizings of the shrouds, which are usually put on in pairs. If a seizing breaks you will in all probability lose your mast, so it is no more than prudent to pay special attention to their condition. Should your shrouds be set up with rigging screws, grease the threads of the screws well with tallow. See that they are not screwed up too tight and also that the tension on both is practically the same.
All that you now have to do is to get the cabin gear oil board and stowed away. A place for everything and everything in its place should be your motto, and if you abide by it you will always be able to put your hand on anything you want, even in the dark. When you take your little craft of! to her moorings and see how smart she looks, you will be amply repaid for all your labour, and it is very certain that you will know far more about her gear than you did when you commenced to refit her.
by F.B Cook | Seamanship for Yachtsmen
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