Travel 2014-2015

Marina Life

There’s a middle way between cruising — sailing all the time — and living at a marina and moving the boat rarely if ever.


This is Island Time. Just launched after several years on the hard. It’s a Brewer; a sister ship to the Whitby. She’s quite a bit like Red Ranger on the inside. The single mast sets her apart.

We’re struggling. It was a beautiful weekend. We did a few piddly little jobs around the boat. Sailing might have been more fun. 


The web of connetions: Island Time, Motu, Sojourner, Pandora. Some are headed south for the seasonal migration. Pandora is actually headed north for more refit.

Liquid Therapy has relocated to a different marina. We visited with them and went to the world-famous Donk’s Theater in Matthews. A house band and a long list of performers. Everyone got in two songs. 

We’re looking forward to the Whitby Rendezvous. The last two years, it was the jumping-off point for our Southerly Migration. 

This year? A little different. 

The Leaks

After replacing the chainplates, we have not been able to get the deck totally watertight.

We’ve been applying liberal volumes of various goos: mostly Boat Life Caulk.


Yes, it discolors a little. It bonds to almost everything (excepy polyethelyne). It makes a durable, watertight seal. It’s not wonderfully flexible, however.

A skilled technician can apply a neat bead. A finger dipped in soapy water can even out the surface.


Some of these applications were not watertight in heavy rain. The suggestion from some is that this caulk gets hard enough that the normal working of the rigging will break open the bond in places.

What’s better? Some suggest butyl tape. 

We bought a 40’ roll of tape from SailRite, and we’re trying it out on the starboard side.


This is tenacious stuff. It’s “tape” in it’s structure. But this stuff was not like working with duct tape or masking tape. This was like someone squirted a bead of putty onto a strip of backing paper and rolled it into a spiral. It seems to stick to both pieces of backing paper equally well, and it’s a crapshoot how it will peel off.

I think that the intent is to unwind several feet of the stuff, cut to length and then put long strips around windows, or on long joints and seams. You can mush it down with the backing paper and then — after mushing — peel off the paper. Ideally, it will stick better to the stuff you mushed it into than it will the paper.

It’s commonly used to bed portlights into the hull. There’s a big flange that you cover with butyl tape. As you tigthen the bolts, the butyl oozes out. I’ve seen pictures of people bedding their lifeline stanchions by using big sections of butyl tape on the base of the stanchion.

I’ve seen pictures of folks drilling the deck holes with a little countersink. The base of the stanchion has a proper countersink machined into out. But they deck holes are given a countersink so that the butyl tape will ooze down around the screw.

Since I only need little 6” strips, unwinding a long strip doesn’t seem quite right to me. 

I’ve been scraping 6” sections off the backing paper and then mashing it down around the chainplate. 


I can shape it into a pleasant little smooth-sided hill between deck and chainplate. I’ve been using a plastic scraper to push it down into the tiny cracks around the base of the chainplate hoping to fill any voids.

Test Case

We’ll see how the starboard side fares over the next few weeks. My clothes are stored in the aft starboard lockers, so if my boat clothes stay dry, my fix worked.

If my boat clothes can more mildewed than the already are, then we’ll be searching for other solutions.

Interior Renovation

Maybe renovation is a bit too big for this. The Red Ranger has two long, fixed portlights that let in a lot of sun. And heat.

In the summer, these need to be covered to keep the interior livable. It’s that or air conditioning. 

And we ripped the AC out because it was only usable at a dock. For the last two years, we spent minimal time at a dock.

Now that we’re at a dock more-or-less full time. AC might be nice. But “nice” also includes “expensive”. The power isn’t free and the machinery must be maintained and it’s storage that’s lost to us.

Here’s the old covers with a weird fastening that I devised.


This is what CA did using snaps and a single piece of fabric.


Shady in the summer when we need shade. 

A little late this year, since summer’s almost over. But it’s ready for next summer.

A tiny optimization — finally

One day I (finally) noticed something odd about the winches on Red Ranger. This is one of the many things I thought about when I have four hours to sit on deck and watch the ocean. You have time to think about — well — everything. 

I noticed that the feeder arms of our self-tailing winches all pointed inboard.

Winches — for the non-sailors — all wind one way: clockwise. The self-tailing feeder arm should lead the line around the jaws and from the winch to a useful cleat.

Here’s what I (finally) noticed.

The huge yankee sheets feed from the aft into the winch. [“Aft?” you ask. “Isn’t the sail for’rd?”  Good observation. We have a turning block back there to provide a clean approach to the winch.]


One the port side of the boat, the sheet went around the winch drum four times clockwise, over the feeder arm, took a final 180° turn through the jaws and down to a cleat. A fair lead.

One the starboard side, the sheet went four times around, then over the inboard-facing feeder arm, and did a full 360° wrap all the way around the jaws where it collided with itself before trying to find a cleat. Awkward.

They’d always been like that. Previous owner left them like that. We left them like that.


Until I finally rotated the feeder arm on the big Lewmar 48 on the starboard side winch. Finally. After — what? — five years? Now it goes over the outboard-facing arm, does a 180° through the jaws and leads fairly to a cleat. 

It appeared as though the winches had been assembled purely for esthetics. The feeder arms pointed inboard because — I guess — it looked better that way.


The for’rd stays’l winches? Same essential problem viewed in a mirror. The lines come from for’rd, and both of the feeder arms faced inboard. The Lewmar 30’s don’t have a movable feeder arm, so the entire winch had to be turned.

So I unbolted the winch, rotated it 144°. We now have a pretty clean feed from sail foot to winch to self-tailing jaws to cleat.

Wait? 144°? What? Yes. It’s held down by 5 bolts. It was 144° or 216° of rotation. Less than 180° rotation means the line feeds more than half-way around. As long as it doesn’t feed 360° and tangle with itself, it’s much better than it was.


  © Steven Lott 2019