Winter Upgrades to our Rival 34 Sailboat

It’s winter break, and I’m spending a few days on the boat.  I had a very good meeting with Kemp Sails and Kiwi Rigging (both in Gosport) this morning about some winter upgrades to be done in the next few weeks.  I’d like to think that I have a small pot of money to use every two years for some nice upgrades to our boat.  Two years ago it was new primary winches from Lewmar.  This year it’s all about the sails and rigging.

First, we are having Kemp build us one of their modern stack packs with lazy jacks.  This should make dropping the sail and putting in reefs easier with a husband/wife crew like ours, and our current sail tie and sail cover system are end of life anyway.  This is a relatively affordable upgrade, and we look forward to it.  (In particular my wife seems to like the idea of me doing less ping-ponging up and down on the fore deck as we enter Poole or similar rough entry areas.)

Second, it’s been embarassing that we haven’t had a good preventer system for the boom for down-run sailing in choppy conditions.  As you might guess, the English Channel is typically choppy conditions.  At the London boat show I picked up all the gear (line, Harken block, stainless fittings) for a nice end of book preventer that runs to the bow and back, and I have that all set up.  Once the stackpack from Kemp cleans up our boom, I might consider rigging the preventer to be under the boom and ready all the time.
Third, we had the genoa taken down today and Kemp is going to shorten the head by 2-3 inches so that we can increase the tension on the halyard.  It runs right to the block now, but we don’t seem to get enough tension and this affects upwind performance.  That should be an easy fix and should be done in a couple of days.  Otherwise, the North Sails genoa is in great shape, and no other cleaning or repairs are needed at this time.

Fourth, now that the mainsail has been measured for the stackpack, I’m taking it off later this week to deliver to Kemp for repairs and cleaning.  That should be done in 2-3 weeks.  I like our North Sails main, but it’s developed some mildew spots and has one or two holes worn through up by the luff of the sail.

Kiwi Rigging of Gosport is visiting our boat next week to install the two blocks for the lazy jacks and to do a rigging check.  Since I’m a touch lazy this year, I’ve also asked them to repack all five of our winches (since it’s been two years).  I don’t expect anything negative from the rigging check, but I like having one done every two years.

Other things– I need to change the oil this week and I plan to upgrade the fuel filter from a CAV to a Racor spin-on.  In previous years, I always get a 50/50 chance that the dumb multiple seals on the three part CAV filter don’t perfectly align and leak, so I have to disassemble and redo a second time (and this is far back behind the engine in a painful to reach space).  I was inspired by Paul Heiney to do this upgrade, since he reminded me that  replacing clogged CAV filters at sea could be extremely difficult and nausea producing.  The spin-on Racors will still need to be bled, but at least they won’t require the three part glass and metal and rubber O ring dance.

If I have any funds left, I’d like some LED cabin lights for reading, but they can wait.  Also, in the future I’d like Lith-ion batteries, but not yet.  If I were sailing the Azores this year (and I wish I were), I might also consider installing a Walden boom-brake (which I also saw at the London Boat Show, or I could bring one back from the states), but I don’t think we need it for this season of sailing.  Maybe next year!

Interesting recommendations from Paul Heiney

As I was developing my winter work list, I came across Paul Heiney’s blog about his recent sail to South America in a Victoria 38.  I had just finished his book “Last Man Across the Atlantic,” so it was good to read about his recent voyaging:

Wild Song Blog

To note for us Rival owners is his “winners and losers” list about gear.  Based on his info, I’ve added the following to the winter work list:

— replace my CAV fuel filter with a Racor spin on (sounds much easier and safer in a seaway)

— add some LED lights to the cabin (we already really like our LED anchor light)

— investigate the Walden boom brake, which sound very nice when short handed

–tune up the Monitor wind vane and finally learn how to use the thing

–ponder a watermaker location if we ever get the chance to go long distance

Fun reading.

The Crash Test Boat Series

Yachting Monthly is arguably the best yachting mag in the UK, and if you haven’t seen their Crash Test Boat series of videos on Youtube, you should check them out. A donated Jeanneau was put through a range of misadventures (holing, capsize, fires, lost mast, gas explosion) along with expert tests of different tools and responses to the disasters. Very revealing– especially the tests of different ways to plug a holed hull and different ways to cut downed rigging.

Here’s one example– the rest are on their Youtube channel:


Our next boat?

In the winter months, it’s always tempting to think about our next boat.  We will own Southern Rival, our Rival 34, for at least two more years, but then we might consider a bit larger boat (38 to 43 feet).  We’d like an offshore-capable boat, maybe liveaboard comfortable, but not so heavy and old that day sails would be out of the question.

On our “consider list” are new and used Ovni sailboats:

We like their ruggedness and world-circling ability.  We’re a tad nervous about the aluminum hulls over time and the stability factors of the hull design.  However, having a relatively easy to sail expedition boat is very appealing to us, especially if our desired 10 year tour comes to fruition.

Secondly, the shallow draft and beachability of Ovni are both attractive features.

Ovni on beach

Meanwhile, I’m off to our Rival early tomorrow morning.  It’s time again to heat up the engine, and I’m also taking down recently-bought gear from the London boat show.  I hope to build and rig the new preventer gear tomorrow.

Original film from “Once is Enough” by Miles Smeeton

I’ve just been reading Once is Enough by Miles Smeeton, a famous account of a Cape Horn attempt in 1956 by three in a 46 foot wood ketch. There is one or two surprises.

Once Is Enough (Sailor’s Classics): Miles Smeeton, Smeeton Miles: Books

There are main references in the book to John Guzzwell shooting film in a cine camera during the trip, including from a dinghy towed behind Tzu Hang, their ketch. If you are curious, fair examples of that film are shown here:

ITN Reporting 67: Cape Horn: Sailing Round the Horn

It’s a great book– a classic.