Number 22, August 1998
SYLVESTER heels under an ominous sky
You must be getting fed up of pictures of SYLVESTER under sail. How about you Chebacco sailors sending me some of yours? Of course, I appreciate that it isn’t the easiest thing to get photos of yourself underway. The above one was taken by a friendly powerboat driver, to whom I had thrown my camera and asked to shoot off the whole film. On a different occasion, I got my crew to sit at anchor in a tender with the camera while I sailed around him. It’s seldom possible to get good close photos of a boat under sail from the shore, unless a long lens is used.
Jamie Orr, whose Chebacco is nearing completion, sent the following email to the ‘Bolgerlist’ discussion group on the internet –
A few months ago I was asking for your experience with paint. I got a number of good responses, with recommendations ranging from latex to two part polyurethane. My concerns were that the finish have good resistance to abrasion, which favoured two part paint, and that the paint be reasonably user friendly, which didn’t. I viewed one part polyurethane as a possible compromise. Prices ranged from $15/litre for enamel to $29/litre for one part polyurethane to $40+/litre for two part.
I finally decided to go for two-part paint. Here’s what I learned using it, in case someone else is in the same boat (no pun intended). I found the paint to tack up quickly, but it wasn’t really that hard to use. I used a West system foam roller to apply it, followed quickly by a foam brush, brushing back into the already painted part. The hard chines of the Chebacco made for easy dividing lines — I painted the keel, then each bottom side, then each bilge side. (I’ve left the topsides for later, after
the deck joint is glassed.) This split the job into long narrow panels, making it easier to keep a wet edge on the paint.
Two things to watch for.
I found that an area about 2 ft by 2 ft was big enough to roll at once. If I did much more, the paint started to tack up before I could brush it all out — I used a three inch disposable foam brush, and didn’t brush any area more than once if I could avoid it. I estimate I had 20 seconds to get the area brushed. I also found that I did a better job if the brush stroke was backhand, not forehand. That meant I painted while moving from right to left, brushing back left to right (for a right-hander). I also changed to a new brush every so often. One roller cover did a full coat.
The other thing to avoid is to leave a roller edge mark across the end of the already painted part — its *very* hard to brush out. To cover the surface, I like to roll first one way, then go over it again at 90 degrees. To avoid leaving a mark, I rolled the paint first parallel to the wet edge, but not touching it — leaving an inch or two uncovered. Then when I rolled at 90 degrees, I rolled back into the wet edge, just as with brushing. The inch or two space only gets rolled one way, but it covered okay, and the join with the previous part was invisible after brushing.
Any flaws have to be covered within that estimated 20 seconds, or the fix will be as bad as the flaw. I put on one coat of primer, and two finish coats, so I had two “practices” before the final coat.
After the cost, the biggest drawback is the toxicity of the paint. An organic filter mask is a minimum requirement, and the paint should not be allowed to touch the skin either. I wear a beard, and so its hard to get a good seal around the mask. To help this out, I globbed vaseline into my beard and put the mask on/in this. If you try this, waterless hand cleaner will get the vaseline out again, eventually. Gloves, sleeve protectors and disposable coveralls completed the outfit. Safety glasses might be a good idea in case of splashes, but I can’t wear them with a mask as they fog up.
For cleanup, I just leave the roller cover and brushes until the paint cures, then throw them out. The solvent is about as toxic as the paint, so I haven’t used any yet. To clean up the mixing cups, I slosh the dregs of the paint in them to catalyse everything, then chuck them when cured. I also use disposable plastic liners in my paint tray, and found out that this paint will eat its way through eventually, so make sure the tray underneath is clean as well.
I used Endura paint, made in Edmonton, Alberta. For information go to:
They have a wide range of colours, or will match any sample. The literature mostly talks about spraying, but they have a special brushing component to replace the usual catalyst if you want to brush or roll it. Make sure the pigmented component is well mixed — preferably shaken on a paint store’s mixer. I found the paint did not change or start to gel while I worked. I mixed up a full litre of primer, but used smaller batches of finish coat —
I mixed about 300 mls (9 oz) each time, adding it to the old stuff in the paint tray. This was to avoid having a lot left at the end.
I had no problem with sagging, but found that if I dripped on an unpainted spot, I had to smooth it immediately, or the drip showed through. I guess the 20 second rule applies here too. After the primer coat, I masked the bottom and bilge surfaces separately, so I could leave them covered while I did the keel, then leave the bilges covered while I did the bottom. More preparation time, but it worked.
There it is. Required care, but wasn’t that hard to use after all.
Craig O’Donnell sent me the following email, pointing to reefing systems described on the Internet:
Speaking of reefing, you kight want to consider the pointer to:
for the next issue. While it isn’t Chebacco-specific, it’s a good overview
of 3 reefing schemes. The originals were (are) for battened sailing canoe
sails, but of course modern lightweight battens could be used on a Chebacco
In any event it might spark a brainstorm among the Chebacco Riggers of the
Sail-making, rigging etc.
Jim Slakov is making his own sails at the moment, and sent me a number of questions. Here’s my reply:
First of all, grommets – I used the cheap brass ones that you’ll find anywhere – 1/2″ inside diameter for everything. I agree that they’re nothing like as good as the ones used by professional sailmakers, but they don’t need special equipment either. I’ve used them on sails for the past 10 years and they’ve lasted fine, apart from a bit of greenness!
The way I fit them is to sew the ring part into the sail, with strong thread, until you can’t see the brass – Then I put in the grommet and flatten it out with the punch and anvil you get with the grommets. It seems to be plenty strong enough. An alternative is to go to an awning maker and get him to press some in – Still it’s nicer to be independent! If I ever make more sails, I may treat myself to some professional kit, but it’s hardly worth it for one set.
You also have some questions on rigging. Here goes.
1. Is there a particular point on the boom to attach the topping lift? Is it just tied onto a cleat or an eye?
– If you look at the gaff sailplan sheet that is part of Phil’s set of drawings, you’ll see that the boom has eyes at various distances from the end of the boom These are, in order:
12″ in from end – The attachment point for the mainsheet block.
8 1/2″ in from previous eye – fairleads for clew reefing pendant (first reef).
19 3/4″ in from previous eye – fairleads for clew reefing pendant (second reef)
8″ in from previous eye – attachment point for topping lift.
17″ in from previous eye – attachment point for second mainsheet block
I have my topping lift tied onto the boom, and going through a block shackled to an eyebolt near the top of the mast, then down the mast, through a block on the deck, via a fairlead, to a cleat on the cabin top (port side). If I was doing it again, I’d probably go for the simpler solution of tying it at the top of the mast and simply cleating the other end on the boom, via an eye.
My only deviation from Phil’s drawing is that I have the reefing cleats much further aft, so that they are easily reached from the cockpit. I keep the pendants in place all the time – including two at the tack. There are four cleats in all – one for each pendant. The pendants are 1/4″ braided line. The pendants cleat on the starboard side of the mast so that you can reef down on starboard tack – giving you right of way over other sailing boats. Cunning, eh?
2. How is the peak halyard attached?
The gaff has a strop (1/4″ dia rope, in my case) going from the mid-point to the top. This should be tied as tight as possible – It looks loose on the sailplan, but you’ll find it falls away like this even if you tie it bar-tight. A shackle slides back and forwards along this strop and the peak halyard is attached to this shackle. This means that when you have the full sail up the shackle will be near the foot of the strop, but when you take in reefs it will be further up, so that the pull is still at right angles to the gaff, allowing you to peak up the sail nicely. Both halyards go through blocks shackled to eyebolts near the top of the mast, then down to turning blocks at deck level, via fairleads to 6″ cleats on the cabin top (starboard side).
3. How do you attach the throat halyard to the gaff jaws?
Interesting one this. I originally shackled it to a lashing on the gaff, but soon found that the shackle was wearing a nice groove in the mast when the sail was peaked up. The best thing to do is sew an eye in the halyard and lash this directly to the gaff jaws (- I have holes drilled in the jaws to accommodate this lashing, as well as the sail lashings).
4. What about the forward end of the boom?
The weight of the boom is enough to keep the luff tight when the sail is raised. No need for any downhaul or vang, in my experience.
5. How do you tie the jaws (boom and gaff) to the mast?
There are holes in the ends of the jaws and I have 1/4 lines thread through them with wooden beads (‘parrel’ beads) to help stop them binding and stopper knots (figure eight) at the ends. The correct tension in these lines is determined my trial and error when you first raise the sail. Some builders have used a conventional gooseneck fitting for the boom.
6. How is the forward end of the sprit boom attached?
There is a line (the ‘snotter’) tied in a hole at the for’ard end of the sprit boom which goes up through a block lashed about 1/2 way up the mast, then down to a 4″ cleat. This supports the sprit boom, and flattens the sail when it is tight. There is no other attachment point for the boom, except for the lashing to the clew. It is important to keep the mizzen flat. If it draws too much you will get weather helm. If you look at Phil’s sailplan drawing the arrangement should become clear.
7. Can you hang onto the tiller while adjusting the halyards underway? Do you use a tiller extension?
No – I normally heave to. This involves centring the mizzen to make the boat point into the wind. Then you can adjust everything at your leisure! I don’t use a tiller extension, but it could be useful at times.
8. What is the sequence for setting sail?
(a) set up the mizzen so you are head-to-wind.
(b) take up the slack in the topping lift and peak halyard so the boom gallows can be removed.
(c) keeping the gaff roughly horizontal, pull alternately on the peak halyard and the throat halyard until the boom jaws rise and the luff is tight.
(d) pull up the peak halyard until the creases run from peak to tack. This is critical for windward performance. A crease from throat to clew means the top part of the sail isn’t drawing properly and performance will suffer greatly. I occasionally need to peak up the gaff during an outing when the halyards settle down.
(e) drop the centreboard if you are heading out to windward.
(f) cast off, backing the mizzen to send you off on the desired tack.
(g) sheet in, and you’re sailing!
I look forward to seeing photos of your boat when she hits the water. The thought of 3 Chebaccos [Jim Slakov’s, Garry Foxall’s and Jamie Orr’s] sailing in company in B.C. waters is wonderful!
Gil Fitzhugh has decided to put hatches in his Chebacco – in the seats, and at either side of the outboard well. He wants them flush (for comfort, and appearance sake) and doesn’t want them to be a source of leaks. His solution is to provide self-draining ‘ledges’ for the hatches to rest on. These have a gutter and drain holes at the corners which lead water away to the ouboard well, where it will drain overboard. This sketch is pretty much self-explanatory
Wanted – a Chebacco
I had an email from Patten Williams, of Augusta, Maine: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I’m looking to buy a used Chebacco and haven’t seen any in the usual places
I look to find boats for sale. Can you direct me to a place I might find
If you know of any, then you could contact Patten by email, or alternatively let me know, and I’ll pass on your message.
Floorboards – to seal or not to seal?
Ed Heins was asking whether the cockpit sole should be sealed, keeping a watertight volume under the floorboards. Here’s how I replied:
As far as I know, all Chebaccos (mine included) just have loose floorboards here, and pump out the underfloor area from time to time. That way, any stray water sloshes around below the bit you are standing on, and doesn’t make it slippery. I’ve used plywood for the loose floor, in three parts – one either side of the CB case and the other covering the aft section. Brad Story has used pine boards, with narrow gaps between. He screws them down but leaves room to poke the end of a hand pump for emptying the bilgewater.
Have you read Sam Devlin’s book on stitch and glue boatbuilding? He favours your method, as it adds strength, but he fills the void with foam and still leaves a drainage channel for getting stray water out.
Incidentally, I’ve had a little trouble with water lying in that free-flooding area
aft of the cockpit. A couple of little limber-holes that drain into the cockpit wouldn’t go amiss. I plan to drill some next maintenance season.
That’s all for this issue. Please keep your news, photos, stories, questions etc coming in.
88 Grove Road,
Dundee DD5 1LB,