New Official Number!

ON 1272125, the new Official Number for Frank, has been assigned by the Coastguard. Once I receive the Certificate of Documentation, I can strike the Manx Red Ensign and hoist the Stars and Stripes!

I will need to have the new port, Corpus Christi, TX, put on the stern, to replace Douglas, IoM. And I need to permanently add the new O.N. to the boat. 

More rails


Rail bolt holes countersunk, shims shaped.

I had intended to finish it today but the sealant that I bought is permanent, rather than semi-permanent, so I shall aim to finish next week.

I also cut some plugs to cover the bolt heads. The ends of the rails need rounding off, and the edges too

Coachroof Rails progress report.


The short report – progress is slow.


The long report: what do you expect? It takes three hours 15 minutes each way for the drive and it is still too hot to sleep on the boat.

I decided against sandwiching the new rail between the old halves – as you knew, it was a daft idea anyway.

So I cut “shims” out of the bottom halves of the rails, from where the rails had mounted to the coachroof.

First patient please..

There are 7 mounting points on each side, and as one end of the port rail was sacrificed to create a cutting knife for the new rails, I had 13:

I used the coachbolts to line up the holes, then glued and clamped the shims in place:

I made a shim to replace the sacrificed one, out of the left-over new wood. 

The shims are too long and look shabby, after 31 years. I will sand, trim and shape them next week.

I will shorten each end of the rails, and shape the wood so that it matches the approx 45° slope of the end mounting point, so that sheets, lines and “moving stuff” does not snag on the ends of the rails.

As you can see, I still have to countersink the bolts. I am struggling to find the right shaped router blade or countersink bit. Once I have done that, I need to cut some caps from the left-over teak and, after using sealant (3M, no Silkaflex in the US) to keep the bolts secure, add some more sealant to act as semi-permanent fixing for the caps.

That is the plan, anyway.

I read that teak oil can soften the marine sealant…

Today, I also started to fabricate a wooden case to disguise the holding tank which is on the saloon side of the bulkhead between saloon and heads. I just thought – maybe I could put knobs on it, so it looks like a cupboard! More on that another day.

Rail Sandwich?

The coachroof rails need to be about an inch deep – 25mm – and the thickest length of teak that I could get is a tad over 20mm. So I was going to make shims from the two six-inch lengths I have left over. This will give me sufficient depth to countersink and cap the bolts.

My latest plan is to use the existing old rails. 

Originally, I was going to cut the shims from the old rails. I was going to do this by cutting them laterally and cutting out 5mm deep sections from the underside, where the rail mounted to the coachroof mounting points.

My current idea is to use the whole length of each rail, and sandwich the new piece between the old tops and bottoms. I must admit, I am not convinced that the tops will work, but I think the bottoms will do the job…. An open sandwich!

The new teak is very pale, but I expect that it will all fade to similar shades. I am missing the sternmost two or three inches of the port side rail, which includes the mounting hole and tapered end, so I will have to make a shim for that section.

I had to cut the old rails ino shorter lengths yesterday to get them into the car – so there will be some small gaps where I sawed the wood. I can fill and hide the gaps on the underside, I hope, but the topsides will look awful, I think.

We shall see..

Some pics of work in progress:

Finding Those Hidden Rigging Problems


Standing rigging is slowly decaying. Like dental decay. Regular checkups and frequent inspection will save you from DIY root canal surgery mid Atlantic!

When Frank was out of the water at St Croix Marine in St Croix, USVI, I noticed a potential problem with one of the shrouds. A strand appeared to be kinked where the cable went into the turnbuckle.

strand to left is kinked – broken inside the swage

 Jerry The Rigger was my “local” rigger in Gosport, England, as well as for the ARC, which I had intended to join, so I knew where to check. I sent this pic to him, and he advised me to get a knife or screwdriver in between that kink and check the strand. It was broken.

I shimmied up the mast using my Aloft Alone kit to check the upper rigging. All looked fine, but I had a nagging doubt and went back up to take a second look.

Sure enough, on closer inspection, the head or baby stay had a broken strand at the swage up top. 

Problem: Selden do not have an agent in St Croix, and the swages are unique to Selden.

The marina rigger did not have the right size wire, as Frank has both 7mm and 8mm shrouds. Bear in mind that the US does not do mm, and I had to translate this into Imperial. The nearest source was in St Barts (I think – will check). So I ordered swages and wire, which was flown in via Antigua after a lot of delay.

Unfortunately, the rigger had a mishap and mangled a swage at the turnbuckle. This meant that the “T-Hook” swage for the mast end of the stay, which he had already attached, was wasted. I only had one 8mm T Hook, so had to order more. 

The old T Hook Swages

The mangled new Swage

These ended up spending two weeks going from St Barts to Antigua to St Kitts to Antigua to, eventually and many calls later, to St Croix. I ordered extra!
Finally, the turnbuckle at the forestay did not fit the deck mounting. So I had to buy a new turnbuckle from the store, which they had. 

Always do a close, visual and physical check of your standing rigging, especially at the swage – the damage will be worse just inside the swage, where you can’t see it. And carry spares!

Jerry Henwood aka the aforementioned Jerry The Rigger sold me a A great emergency repair kit from Sta-Lok for use when a shroud breaks at sea, which I did not have to use, but always carry. One set for each size.

For emergencies, by the way, rather than bolt cutters to remove shrouds in case of a dismasting or other problem, I recommend an angle grinder. It can be used one-handed, so you can cling to the boat or the shroud with one hand: you might be in heavy weather. Besides, bolt cutters are very hard to use in the best of conditions – don’t believe what you see in the movies. Bouncing around in a F10 on deck with both hands gripping a bolt cutter is not going to cut it.

Onboard tools should be rechargeable, with spare cutting wheels and spare, interchangeable batteries. I have standardised on DeWalt, so that I know I will have power for cutting sawing and drilling at sea.

For more info on ARC and crossing the Atlantic : Practical Boat Owner ran this article in March 2016.

Fitting the coachroof rails

Today (Sept 10, ’16) I drilled the holes and added the new rails. A couple of the holes were slightly out of alignment but the rails now fit and look good. I have to countersink the coachbolts, and one hole in the coachroof has lost is thread. i will fill the hole with resin and cut a new thread. Then I can cut the rails to length, round off the ends (is that “chamfer?” I shall check!) and perhaps round off the edges as well. 

I do not think there is enough depth to the rail for me to make and put caps over the bolt heads, but if there is, I will use the spare 12″ of teak to make them. Small circles of teak to sit over the bolt heads and hide them.

The next decision is – oil or varnish? Dunno. Oil is more practical, varnish more beautiful.

New Sail Cover! Updated 18 Sept ’16

Matt from Coastal Bend Yacht Services made and put the new sail cover on this week. 
Frank looks a lot better! Plus, of course, the mainsail is finally getting some protection from the sun. [Update: the lazy jacks are on too. Adjustable at the mast, so they can be dropped out of the way. My original cover/stackpack was torn when the jacks caught in the battens].

Zipper at the mast

Toggles underneath

I decided against a Stack Pak -$700 to save taking the cover below decks seems poor value for money. Next week the lazy jacks go on. 
I met Matt’s wife when I called in at their shop in Corpus – lovely lady. I bought 50 feet of 1/2″ mooring line to go with the new rope floats that I bought.

Because Frank is on a floating pontoon, I need a way to tie up to the pile in the pic. So I am experimenting.

It is probably overkill, but in case a storm hits (this is hurricane season..) I need a way to give Frank maximum security, especially if I can’t get there in time to move her or double up the lines. 

So I bought 20 of these floats and threaded the line through 18 of them, and lassoed the pile. As you can see, they sit on top of the blue fenders that I put there last week.

The idea is that the lines will rise and fall with the tide, whilst still holding Frank in place. Even if the blue fenders snag, the bow line should float freely. Should…


The newly installed Windex greeted me today, on deck.

I was surprised that it had been blown off. Mark explained that the birds (big buggers, not gulls) break them off, because they like a comfortable perch atop the mast! I wonder how long my yet-to-be installed Bluetooth wind instrument will fare..

I also took the new rails to Frank but have not installed them.

Photo Journal – Crossing the Atlantic


Crossing from Camarinãs to St Croix took about five weeks. I stayed on GMT the whole trip.

I took a few photos and made a regular video diary, which I plan to edit and turn into a movie of sorts, one day.

This is my iCloud album. Feel free to browse. The most interesting aspect for me was the change in my face – early exhaustion, leading to a leaner, happier visage as I made progress.
There are a load of missing pics, but how many shots of waves, or experimental night shots, can a peson stand??

The stop-over is Porto Santos, where I arrived at around 5am and left at 22:00, having dried my bedding and clothes and retrieved the halyard, using my invaluable Aloft Alone kit .

The big island in the background is Madeira. It is a massive lump of rock in the middle of the Atlantic – it stays in the rear view mirror (no, I don’t have one!) for days! 

The photo or video that I did not get was of the dolphin to my starboard, perhaps 10 feet from me. I was watching and filming the dolphins to port, when I turned and saw a dolphin walking on its tail, looking at me, keeping pace. Then it disappeared.

The other scene that I missed filming was nature in action: the flying fish suddenly appeared, having been hidden from the birds under the boat, they were flushed out by dolphins: then came the chasing dolphins in a feeding frenzy, and suddenly the gulls joined in the fray.

Tired, heading south “to where the butter melts”

Exhausted, smiling

Porto Santos

Madeira. Forever Madeira

Manx Red Ensign at dawn

Happier Colin

Beard coming along nicely

Dragons be there.. Going off the edge of the World, or at least the Garmin map of Western Europe as delimited by that green box under the 274°, top right.

What goes round, comes round..

Radio GaGa updated Sept 10 2016

(Added the name plate with callsign etc to the vhf panel – pic below)

I had to replace the old VHF, as the mic lead had disintegrated in the heat of the Caribbean. Or… Mice?

The new one was a different size profile, and I only had a Dremel, so I made a bad job of fitting it into the “cubby”, as I was just trying to get everything ready to escape before Christmas.

I have made a new frame to fit the vhf, and bought a couple of adapters, so that it is attached to the fascia, rather than to a stand. The pics will explain. 

Note that slot cut into the inner hull side – you can see light through the hull. I am guessing that the original vhf was bigger and the installer cut into the inner hull and 2″ of foam, to give space to the radio’s heat sink.

A bit of varnish makes all the difference…shame I could not match the wood. I have ordered an engraved plate with Vessel Name, call sign (Mike Echo Charlie Whisky Eight), O/N 701429 and MMSI (too long).

A bit messy – someone else before my time added the white gunge, by the way. 

All set, and it works better too!

Frank’s Flown The Coop!

The world’s most famous (and least attractive)  marine chicken coop has been decommissioned.

I shall recycle the 1″ marine ply, and re-fashion or replace the steel chassis.

The new Crystal Palace, as I have dubbed it, will be a steel and Lexan affair.

Some pics:

Note the Chippendale craftsmanship, as Arthur Negas used to say on “Going for a Song” – the forerunner of Antiques Roadshow. And check out the yellowed acrylic glazing!

Frank, looking less like a fishing trawler every day!

The new sailcover and lazyjacks will arrive in a week or so.