This is one of those technical posts which will not be of much interest except to me, and other sailing anoraks/Drascombers. Did I mention, this is part blog, part diary?
So, the last couple of weeks I have been spending quite a lot of time in bed, as I have a fairly vicious chest infection. And no, its not COVID. However, most of my energy has been directed into caring for the kids. I have been able to do a few odd jobs on the boat, but not many…
Here they are, in no particular order…
This was the first eye splice I have undertaken in, probably, getting on for twenty years. I’m a bit rusty, that first critical tuck was not tight enough, but not bad. Especially considering I didn’t have to consult a book or anything, and didn’t have a fid.
Thanks to the Facebook Drascombers for reminding me to roll it!
This one is for a burgee halyard.
so, I then found a fid, and cracked on with some practise. These are in the order I did them, from top to bottom, and (I think) showed improvement. I also found my fid, which was languishing in my sailing box in the loft.
Most of these are simple lanyards – for fenders, buckets etc. The bottom one, which has a few extra tucks is for the new jib halyard/forestay. Note they all still nees their loose ends cutting off in the picture, since done.
Incidentally, for cutting rope, I use an old butter knife, which I heat to pretty near red hot on my gas barbeque. I even made a little twisted wire attachment to hold the knife in the right place.
Also completed, but not pictured, I made up some mooring lines, each about 7 metres long, with an eye-splice. They are from some slightly bigger rope I had lying around, but I wont bother you with pictures at the moment. They are also marked with a whipping to show they are all of a length, as the remainder of the the piece of rope, about 20 metres, I kept in one piece, either for future use, or for things like towing, extending the anchor warp etc, so it looks more or less the same.
If you look in some of the pictures, you will also see the new bungee and ball type sail ties I have made, as I find these a very useful bit of kit to have for everything from furling sails to holding the lightboard on the boat!
A couple more newly fitted bits:
I personally dislike having my sheets permanently attached to my sails, as these were, so added a snap shackle. Especially when you have roller furling, as we do, it is often handy to be able to unclip the sheets to wrap the sail a couple more turns, if the furling line is too short at one end.
It will also make the modification to the “forestay” easier to use. (next bit!)
The black cleat is also new, to take the new jib halyard/forestay.
So, as alluded to above, one of the features I disliked about how the lugger came rigged is that the forestay came in the form of a wire fluff to the Jib. This was shackled, to a swivel, then via a short extension strop, to the mast head fitting. At the bottom, a short wire strop was permanently fitted, which then clips into a carabiner arrangement on top of the furling drum, which is in turn fitted to the stemhead.
What this meant was that there was no mechanism for tensioning the forestay, and that the luff of the jib was much baggier than I was happy with. (apparently a lot of drascombes use a staged adjuster, where tension is varied by choosing which hole of a drilled strip is clipped to, but I didn’t have one!). It also means that raising the mast was done by shackling the head of the forestay to the fitting, lifting the mast up, then wrestling the foot into the carabiner. I found that the main halyard to the mooring cleat was needed as a temporary forestay.
So, the solution I have come up with…
As well as the extra cleat above, I have replaced the shackle at the main mast head with a block, which takes the new haliard / forestay. If I do not want the jib (I suspect a very rare occurence) I can simply hook it to the furling gear carabiner direct.. Otherwise, the foot of the sail, still with its strop, can be clipped to the gear, and the swivel will shackle to the halyard. I have replaced the 6″ wire strop with a ling shackle. The halyard will then be able to hoist the sail, and adjust tension in it.
The other new fitting in the picture is the new halyard block and halyard which will be used to haul the ensign up (more on that later!)
The jib halyard cleat in the picture above (with the sheets) will also be used to take a short strop (or a bight of the jib halyard) around the foot of the mast. I have heard that due to the “loose” setup of the rigging on Drascombes, there have been occasions where the mast foot starts slopping about if one stay slips or stretches. That sounds like a scenario best avoided to me!
Another little mod I’ve done:
On our first trip out the furling line slipped a bit at a crucial time. So I swapped out the jammer for a conventional cleat. I have largely found that either conventional or cam type cleats are fas superior to the old fashioned V type jammers, which have, in my experience, a tendency to slip, and also cause excessive wear to the rope they jam.
I also stitched up a little bag to stow the tail of the line in, which, fixed to the gunwale, should hopefully reduce tangles.
I intend on adding other little catcher bags, as they are a great way to store tails safely and tidily, especially with a crew who don’t (yet) know how to make and hang a coil. I have several more made, and will fit them in due course.
another item fitted but not pictured is a small “quick fist” – a rubber clamp to hold the tiller extension when not in use. I found the extension slopping around to be a nuisance, but the lashing the previous owner had in place was not very quick to fit or easy to remove.
Also fitted, but probably not worth pictures, are a block on the head of the gaff, which has a burgee halyard, and halyard cleats.
The yard fitting is simply a shackle to an existing fitting, as an experiment. If I can’t get adequate tension, I shall have to try somewhere else. Both the main mast and the mizzen have new small cleats to belay their respective flag halyards. The traditionalist in me cannot deal with not having the ship properly dressed, quite apart from the functionality of flags for the more mundane purpose of tracking the wind! However, I think this post is now long enough, so I will publish it now, and say more on the matter of flags later!