Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nothing like a big new stick to make your day (part one)

OK... puns aside, we have finally, almost, just about finished the mast rebuild. Yes, that's right, a total rebuild.

If you buy an old boat... she's going to need a new rig, or at least new standing rigging and chain plates (See Chain Plate Bling Bling post). When buying Odessa we succumbed to the same buyers denial, "oh, the rig was solid, just a couple of things here and there"... But too many unknowns, bad turnbuckles, rusty spots, and several stories from cruisers about rigs coming crashing down... even on boats only 5 years old, and we took the plunge when we pulled the rig in January. After all, the rig is a huge safety issue and you must be confident in your boat if you're going to make offshore passages.

So, here we are about a year later and finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We stripped the mast to the bare stick and had a local painter prep and paint it the original MacGregor Black. To be honest the paint job kind of sucked, so we had him reshoot it a second time right before we left for paris... and all in all it took 12 weeks, not one week... ah, island time.

The delay wasn't bad considering that we also changed from rod rigging to the new Dynex Dux synthetic rope rigging. Colligo Marine took care of designing and supplying the Dynex Dux and all of the fittings, and I must say that John Franta is awesome. But, we are still stuck in the world of traditional sailing for some parts and the mast fittings are NavTech... which took 12 weeks to come... this sounds familiar.

More on rigging in another post... it's a huge subject and we need to run our rigging offshore to have first hand knowledge before we start mouthing off about it... but so far our new ideas are looking very good.

We were forced to buy yet more bling for Odessa... a nice new Harken winch for the mast. Out of the four mast winches we had, one was past repair. So we scavenged around and managed to score a 40% off deal from Budget Marine on a new Harken 40 STX... thanks to the great guys at Budget Marine who continue to help us squeeze every ounce out of our budget, now we have four brands of winches on the boat.

We also replaced the very old and massive spinnaker blocks on the mast head... technology has halved the size of everything from blocks to rope. The new synthetic materials have crazy strength and none of the corrosion issues of old gear. For the rich guy it means lots of shopping, but for cruisers like us we have to be careful... anything exotic tends to need replacing in a year or two, not ten years like the old stuff. We don't plan on flying Odessa's spinnaker unless it's very light wind... it's massive and has the sail area of the moon. So we got some mid sized Lewmar blocks and have the biggies onboard if we get all amorous about going for some downwind records. Odessa is a downwind freight train capable of over 25 knots and has broken several records in her life so far... more like surfing than cruising.

The drama of the roller furling is now over... even though it was a huge budget hit and lost Doreen her water maker ... well, for a while. We now have a new Furlex 300S for the Genoa and the old ProFurl 45 has been cut down and replaces the old Jib furler which was a Frankenstein made up of so many weird parts with the strength of a MacDonalds thick shake straw. You have to use stainless wire in a roller furling so we used the trick stuff that has shaped strands and no stretch... a couple of hundred dollars more but well worth the investment and less than rod.

Rope... man this stuff is pricy too, so take a good look at the running rigging if you're buying a boat. Odessa has a lot of brand new running rigging from the previous owners, but we have had to replace some halyards because the originals were wire and rope hybrids, and we have replaced the mast sheaves to run rope throughout the boat, no stainless steel. These "running rigging" ropes are used to hoist sails up the mast, up the roller furling, even to lift your dingy out of the water and also for sail control. So the halyards that lift the sails up the mast are 180 feet long and carry very heavy loads under full sail. Most ropes are Dynex core these days and 12mm thickness has a breaking strain of around 14,000 pounds, or 7 Tons. But for cruisers like us, these are expensive... up to $1,000 each. The other ropes are also long, so doing the math is scary and it's well worth taking care of your ropes. Wash them at least once a year in mild soap and watch for any chances of chaffing.  If you have a smaller mast you can get lots of deals on eBay for leftover spools, but Odessa has a 75' mast so buying full spools is the way to go.

I must thank Doreen for taking these lovely pictures... we had a frustrating morning when we discovered that two very important parts of our new rig were missing. Doreen whipped me into shape and we achieved a huge amount of work in the heat of the day... then this lovely light sprinkle of rain cooled us off as if to tell us to stop work and enjoy the evening. Doreen grabbed her camera and captured the moments in the most unlikely conditions... in a nasty, dirty boat yard full of mosquitos and stray dogs.

We have learnt an awful lot on this project and I'll do a more complete post in part two... right now the wind has dropped, the air blowing through the boat is cool and the kids are busting to play a board game before bed.

Thanks to everyone who's following our adventures, we really appreciate the emails and most of all comments on the posts, so please comment away, tell us what you think, what you want to know more about and even if you think we suck... we're just trying to inspire people and need you to guide us. Add us to your bookmarks and visit during your morning coffee, tea or toast.

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