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Monthly Archives: April 2009

I’m just sitting in the bar room at Southern Yacht Club waiting for the wind to lay down a bit so I can start testing my autopilot and deliver the boat back to Mandeville.  Collin Ross and I sailed Myrna across the lake yesterday.  There are still some things to tune in the rig, but it is much much better.  I think we are in the clear for now.  It was an upwind port tack beat for 25 miles and Myrna is noticeably faster upwind than before and she points better as well.  The wind was blowing around 12-15 knots and we were fully ballasted up the whole way across with a significant Lake Pontchartrain chop.  The only time our boatspeed was below six knots we were pinching up to avoid tacking to get into New Orleans Municipal Marina.  

So Collin and I got in to NOLA and picked up Dave Bolyard, Clark Thompson and his son Phin.  Then we did a little Wednesday night race, and finally got some off the boat pics of us sailing.  We look like a bunch of refugees on a little boat like this, but it was a lot of fun.


I was hoping to get some pictures that showed the whole sail plan, but there you go.  Phin just chills on the back porch and askes hillarious questions.


More later.




People are always like “What’s the secret to your constant and aweful sheen?”, and I’m like, “Bug spray and sunscreen, girlfriend!  Don’t say nothing though.  It’s my trademark.”

  Anyway, that’s me at 11 last night.  I kept trying to capture the gnats in action, but they don’t get the nickname “no-see-ems” for nothing.  I love Louisiana, but the bugs have been insane.

I don’t have much time because I’m sailing across Lake Pontchartrain today, but here’s the vang.


And here’s the compass heading on one of the autopilot control heads.  


Myrna rising!




The pink forms represent myself opening up to the things in my future, good or bad.  The red line represents all the negativity in my life, and its relation to my vulnerable state.  The artwork on the wall refers to lost opportunities and how I Cherish them all, and the curtains symbolize the unknown.  Don’t read too much into value inversions between the  chairs and TV dinner tables.  I put those in there just for compositional balance.

Okay, just kidding.  These are actually aft floatation.  I’ve been putting off a huge list of things.  One is floatation.  I did these at Pat’s house tonight so I didn’t have to fend off mosquitoes all night.  I got pretty well eaten last night, so I did all the measuring this afternoon and got back to the house around 8:30 pm.  I’m bringing these pink things to Cat 5 tomorrow to have them filled with foam and laminated.  Then I will bond them to the aft quarters of my boat to make Myrna Minkoff class legal.  I had so much other stuff to do in the past many months, and I didn’t know what I was going to do about this exactly, so here we are.  Should work fine and be a clean install.

 While Cat 5 is working on these I’ll continue with the refinements Clark Thompson and I worked out.  I like sailing with him because he’s a very observant and competant sailor who is also very creative.  We are able to come up with a list of problems and potential solutions quickly and normally we pick the right one by the time we are back at the dock.  I’ll see if we were right soon enough.

Yes, that means I have not gone sailing since changing the rig.  It’s been consistently blowing 15-20+ knots for the past 4 days or so, and I don’t want to have to sail Myrna full ballast etc for her first, post first, sail.  The idea is to ease into these things when there is so much prototypical stuff going on, and it gives me some good time to tick off other objectives from my work list.  Things like aft floatation, which have been looming like old psychic debt.  

I also spent the some of today working on the in-hauler for the jib, so now there are three lines on both sides controlling the floating ring for the jib sheets, and I’ll be able to haul the clew way inboard for light upwind work.  The in-haulers are split into a bridal situation forward of the mast and then run aft to a single cleat on the cabin top.  So you pull one line and port/starboard jib leads are hauled inboard.  

Yesterday I finished all the stand-offs for the main traveler.  For all of these jobs there was a lot of running around, but I made up for most of it by working into the night and was getting home around 10 PM most nights.  

I feel like I’m on a roll now, but need to sleep better at night.  Pat has a tin roof, and my bedroom has a tree growing right alongside it.  With all the wind we’ve been getting the tree has been scraping it’s branches along the roof and I am waking up at all hours of the night with some really really horrifying dreams.  All very gory and I’m blaming them all on the fingernail/chalkboard sound coming from the ceiling above me.  In fact last job of the day is to crawl out on the roof tonight and cut those branches.  Thankfully I have my head lamp on the dashboard of my truck.  

In fact, I have two items on my truck that tell how I start and end my days.  A pair of sunglasses and a headlamp.


It’s now 10:45 PM and I just got back from the boat.  I was on a role, so I put on my light Titanium windbreaker from Columbia, so the mosquitoes and gnats wouldn’t be as bad, and kept doing little rigging jobs and making changes from the work list Clark and I came up with.  

Jeremy Richmond and Pat helped me step the mast today, and it is much much more stable and controllable.  It’s funny, now that the rig is stabilized, I feel stabilized.  My emotional world has become very tightly wound up in this project, which tends to happen when you have been working on something like this for so many months.  The anxiety about the mast was sort of paralyzing for a while, and I think I’m on top of it now.  Fingers crossed.  


Besides getting the mast up and tuned here is a list of things I did this evening:

-Attach all the wires coming from the mast, nav lights, wind instruments and VHF.

-I made the mainsheet system a 6:1 and changed out the triple becket ratchet block to a 40 mm block.  The 60 mm was too heavy and kept falling onto itself whenever there was any slack.

-I put the 60mm system below deck to pull the mast forward and made the mast aft purchase a 40mm system instead of the 30 that was there.  They are both 20:1 purchases.  

-I made put on a mast boot at the deck that allows the mast to move fore/aft.

-I made the 4:1 forestay adjuster a 6:1 purchase, which is just a cascade of sailmaker thimbles to a clutch.


All of the rake and bend systems that I thought would be enhanced by the hinged spreaders actually work better with the fixed spreaders.  There are a bunch of reasons for this that I don’t feel like going into because it’s late.  But they work much much better.  Prebend is much more controllable because the fixed spreaders are not inducing bend as they load up.  The hinged ones did because they were swept back under load, and it was a vicious cycle.  

It’s going to be too windy tomorrow to go for a sail, and I don’t have line bags yet.  I’m waiting for the breeze to drop to 8 knots to go check the systems.  The line bags thing may sound like a lame excuse, but I’ve done too much sailing in my life to put up with spaghetti everywhere.  It just messes up my matrix.

Pat’s girlfriend took pictures of the mast going up and she’ll mail them to me tomorrow.  I’ll insert them into this post when I get them.


At the moment I’m wearing my Stewie pajamas, eating what can only be described as Mexican lasagna, and drinking a dirty martini.  All around I’m feeling pretty good about what’s happening with the mast.   Yesterday I went to Cat 5 Composites to make the spreader bar for the lower spreaders.  They happened to have the material and Barry talked me into replacing that one too  since it wasn’t much more work and we knew it would work.  So I spent the day making all of the parts I’d need to do the modification and prepared the rig today removing all of the really neat looking expensive, and overly creative mechanisms I had labored over for so long.  Amazingly I didn’t mind seeing it go, but you wouldn’t either if you saw what the mast was doing with the spinnaker up!   In the end that’s all that matters, and there is no use dwelling on the lost time. 

So here we are at the begining of the removal.


Barry came by this afternoon and looked at what I was doing and warned me of a couple of stress risers left over from the flanges so I filled for/aft fissures with epoxy and put carbon band-aids on them.


So first thing in the morning I’ll put a coat of UV protector on those bits of lamination, assemble the rig and put her up.  After that we’ll go for a sail and see what’s what.  

And I obviously found my camera, so I’ll take some real pictures this time 🙂


It’s been my proto/proto mast throughout this whole development.


There are a lot of little holes in it.  

I had to go to Slidell today to dig around the storage unit for that bar.  It’s the old spreader bar from the top spreader on my old mast.  I knew I kept it around for a reason.  I spoke today with Tony Delima from Forte and Jim Stone from Hall, and discussed going back to the old school and they both thought was a good idea.  One of the things I overlooked in this older technology is the fact that in my current rig I have completely eliminated mast twist from the picture.  With the spreader bar I’ll be inducing mast twist downwind which may actually help further stabilize the rig.   Maybe I’m reaching here, but you would be too if you’d gone through the amount of madness I’ve been going through to get to this point 🙂 

I’ll carry on with electronics tomorrow, and get everything set up so that the mast can come down Wednesday morning.  I want to have it back up by Wednesday evening.  

Please cross your fingers that this works.  I’m getting worn down a bit.


I spoke with Jesse Rowse and Barry Baker about some options.  I’m used to working through ideas with these guys, and it’s always helpful.  Jesse went through a lot of BS with his mast initially, which we discussed a lot as it was happening, and Barry has decades of experience and is a bit of an artist.  Barry and I looked at some parts and came up with a plan.  My goal is to have the rig down, fixed and up in the same day.  So I’m just lining everything up so it can happen at once.  


I spent the rest of the day installing a new pilot control head on the tiller and reinstalling the stacking bunks.  I’m having a hard time getting the Navman pilot to recieve NMEA info from the B&G instruments.  I had it working a couple years ago, but something ain’t right.  I forgot how tedious those bunks are to install and it took me the rest of the day to do those.  


I feel better about the plan and it shouldn’t take long because we are going for a much more traditional fix than what I have up there currently.


I had been questioning whether this was the mast of my dreams or nightmares.  It’s the mast of my nightmares.  This rig is a death trap. 

Clark and I went sailing today with his son Phin.  The average wind was around 12 knots and we had the boat going quite really well upwind.  The inside outside rig needs tuning still, but basically it was quick.  There is however a lot of movement from the top spreaders.  The leeward one was swinging around like wild and the windward one was moving fore/aft about three inches in the chop.  I don’t like it.  I knew there would be some movement, and that was the point, but this is too much.  Clark and I talked about this for a while, and then bore away to sail  back in to Mandeville.  We didn’t have a mast head spinnaker, but put up the fractional one just to have some fun.  So with full mainsail, jib and the fractional spinnaker we were making around 10 knots of boatspeed while sailing above our polar angles.  This is where the nail was driven in the coffin though.  We watched the top spreaders as the boat accelerated and slowed against the back of waves.  The mainsail was pushing the top spreader directly in line and the windward spreader was lining right up with the leeward one as the mast loaded up.  We were sailing underpowered and the mast was already trying to invert.  In racing conditions this thing would be overboard very quickly.  I’m talking to people now and looking for answers.

 First thing’s first,  the rig needs to come out again.


She’s faster!  Last night I went sailing with Collin Ross and Chris Morency who were helping me at the Pontchartrain Yacht Club to get the boat ready to sail.  We left in a light breeze which quickly picked up to 10 knots once we were away from land a bit.  Myrna Accelerated very quickly and felt much more springy than the last time I sailed her.  She used to heel longer in a puff before accelerating, but now it’s a quick heel, slight ease of the traveler and immediate acceleration.  This is certainly a result of huge weight savings aloft coupled with new sails that are both bigger and lighter.  Plus Dave Ullman did an amazing job designing the sails and they trim beautifully.  With his mastery of the Melges 24 class he understands perfectly how to design fast sails for small boats like a mini.  Plus, as far as I know, he is the only designer in the Melges class building mainsails in dacron, and he wins with them!  I’m using woven Pentex, but the characteristics are similar.  

I’m going to spend the rest of the day preparing the boat to work perfectly, because yesterday we just sort of threw stuff together to get out there.  Myrna’s not quite a perfectly functioning organism yet, so I have quite a bit of work still.

I cannot find my camera, so Chris took a picture with his phone just so I’d have proof!  


More later.


On my boat too, not a Beneteau 40.7.  Devon and I raced the Beneteau  this weekend in wildly shifty and light condtions.   There were only seven boats in our class.  We managed a 3rd and had a good time out there, even though there were a lot of wind speed readings of two knots or less!  A Hobie 33 and a Flying Tiger 10 corrected out over us by around two and a half minutes for the 16.5 mile race.  We essentially lost all our time on those boats in the last 4 mile leg which was downwind in 5 knots of wind, but that’s handicap racing…

Anyway, Pat and I stepped the mast today, and I spent the rest of the day doing rigging stuff to get her ready to sail tomorrow.  I should be very excited about it, but I have some family issues that are weighing heavily on my mind, and I feel a bit like I’m just going through the montions right now.  I’m sure that will lessen as Myrna’s little secrets start to show themselves to me, but that’s just where I am right now.

There has been a lot of work this week that I didn’t blog about.  Let’s do that then.  Highlights:

-My Dad took my trailer to St. Augustine Florida, so now I have to sail over there!

-Because he took his truck Pat and I had to move the mast to Pontchartrain Yacht Club with two bicycles.  It’s only about a 15 minute walk, but it still made for a good sight on the lake front as people were jogging by.

– I paddled my boat down the bayou last night with one ore, because I’m too lazy to drive to Slidell to get my engine out of storage.  I moved Myrna up the bayou because the water had dropped dramatically at the yacht club.

-I’ve been working late into the night out there, and the bugs are here for the summer!

I promise I’ll take pictures tomorrow.