The Minimalist Sailor

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She’s still sittin’ high and dry

I’m making progress, but Lorilee is still on the hard.  The six-hour round trip every weekend is starting to really wear on me.  So I’m motivated more than ever to get the hell out of that yard.  It’s time to get my ship together!

The last few weekends have been incredibly busy.  I have re-rigged the mast, run some electrical, and rebuilt the bulk of the termite damage.


So the weekend after my last delivery trip (How Did I Get Here), I began the reassembly of the mast and boom.  It was tedious work, as I wanted to ensure that anywhere a stainless fitting touched aluminum would be well insulated from galvanic corrosion.  Simply put, galvanic corrosion is the cathodic/anodic interaction between dissimilar metals.  Stainless is a more noble (or active) metal than aluminum, so when an electrolyte is introduced, such as salty moisture, the two metals essentially create a simple battery.  This interaction can rapidly degrade aluminum, weakening the connection and providing a big headache for the sailor.


Duct tape on the “feet” of the steps

To prevent galvanic corrosion on the mast, I slathered Tef-Gel on just about everything.  A light film of the stuff is required to prevent corrosion. However, I souped it on like peanut butter!  For moving parts, such as the masthead sheaves and stay/shroud tang bolts, I used lanolin, or wool oil.  Lanolin has been used for generations on sailboat rigging.  It has many of the same benefits as Tef-Gel, but is more of a lubricant. For any large fittings with a wide surface area, I used a pad of duct tape as an insulator between the stainless and the mast.   Probably a tad bit overkill, but I want to make certain that I don’t have to do this again.

My folks came down last weekend to see how the project was going. It was their first time seeing Lorilee.  They were impressed :)


Explaining the rig to my dad

Explaining the rig to my dad


Old “Castlelock” fitting. You can see the wire at the base is separating.

While they were there, I refit the standing and running rigging.  Two of the halyards are pretty old and chafed, so new lines are in order.  I also found that the intermediate shrouds need replacing.  Lorilee is unique for a Westsail 32, in that she has eight shrouds, whereas most have only six.  She has uppers, lowers, and intermediates. The intermediate shrouds serve as running backstays to support the staysail.  The old Castlelock fittings are swollen and fairly corroded.  My motto with the mast has become “do it while it’s down”.  So I’m looking to replace the two shrouds with either Hi-Mod or Sta-Lok fittings. They’re a bit pricey, but very worth it in my opinion.

I also made some DIY spreader boots out of a length of fire hose, a couple of ring clamps, and rubberized tape I found onboard.  I think they turned out well and didn’t cost me a dime.


DIY spreader boots made out of fire hose


This last weekend, my dad decided to come back down to Rockport to help out with perhaps my biggest hurdle yet – the deck beams.  The main deck beams are structural members that distribute the load between the mast step and the compression post.  They also provide lateral support for the cabin bulkheads (alot of sailboat jargon, but hard to explain otherwise). The original deck beams were pretty much totally destroyed by drywood termites.  My dad rebuilt them with Iroko (African Teak).  It has many of the same properties of Pacific Teak but is stronger and about a fifth of the cost.   We used a high-lift jack to get the beams secured in place.  It was a LOT of work, but we finally got it done. I’m very pleased with the result.






For rebedding the through-bolts, I tried my hand at a technique I have read much about.  Basically, the original hole is bored out with a Dremel bit, leaving the upper and lower layers of gelcoat/fiberglass in tact.  The hole is taped off from below and filled with epoxy.  After the epoxy is cured, a new hole is drilled and beveled with a 5/8″ countersink bit.  The finishing touch is to create a “gasket” on the underside of the hardware with butyl rubber.   By doing this, the wood core is protected from moisture penetration should the sealant fail. After I did one or two of the holes, the technique is actually pretty easy.   Once we snugged the bolts down, we backed them off about a full turn to allow the butyl to “seep”.  I’ll go back next weekend to tighten everything and trim off the excess butyl. Only time will tell if the technique works, but I feel quite confident it will be fine.


Dremel bit #654


Beveled the hole before and after epoxy fill. Probably not necessary to do it before, but definitely a must after.


Butyl oozing from the fitting. The bevel acts as a “gasket” between the deck and the washer. It is imperative that the hardware isn’t tightened fully and that it doesn’t twist. Doing so will break the seal created by the butyl.


On top of everything else, we ran some new electrical wire in the mast.  Like everything else I’ve done, I went a little overkill on the new wire.  All the new LED lights have 18 to 22 gauge wire, but I ordered 14 gauge wire for whatever reason.  And I ordered a LOT of it.  So not only was it damned near impossible to run this huge wire in the mast’s internal conduit, all of the heat-shrink butt splices I bought are useless.  I’m really rethinking this choice in wire, so I may be ordering some smaller wire. With all LED lights, the amp draw is minimal and voltage drop is negligible.

The last bit of work I have to do on the mast will be to mount my radar system and lights.  I ended up buying my friend’s Furuno 1623 radar system for $300.  I was on the fence about it for a while, but I thought it was a pretty good deal.  It’s really just a temporary fix, as I will likely upgrade to a system that integrates with Sea-IQ/Open CPN before I begin my voyage.   I just wanted something to aid with sailing around the Gulf for the next two years or so.  With lots of tanker traffic and oil platforms, anything is better than nothing.

I’m about to move into the next phase of the project – filling and fairing hull blisters.

Stay tuned :)

– Ryan


Published in Ryan Bradfield
Updated: May 11, 2015 — 13:05
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