This article is the second in a series by the author detailing the refit of a 1978 C&C 25. To read the previous article click here: Refitting for Performance.
The weather this morning looked as though spring might finally have beaten back the harsh New England winter. A sunny sky, and bearable temperatures might even make believers of the most cynical residents of this region. Could the warm breezes of summer be just around the corner? Well, typical of this time of year, visions of shorts and miniskirts were soon muted by the formation of thick clouds approaching from the west. The warm breeze turned raw, the sun disappeared behind a blanket of gray and then that that raw, bone-chilling drizzle that has been an all too familiar this winter re-emerged. There is even talk of freezing rain and snow in the forecast. UGH! This winter has been like a relative who stays too long.
Nonetheless, it is time to get back to preparing Mark McGivney's C&C 25, so that when the spring does finally arrive we will have completed our upgrades and can go sailing. In our previous article, we pointed out the problems and limitations that Mark had noticed with his boat's performance. It is always easy to identify problems. The trick is to figure out the most efficient and economical way to fix them. So we took our to-do list and started talking with experts in the sailing industry to come up with solutions.
Our firststop was Waterline Systems/US Watercraft, owned and run by Randy "Dunes" Borges. Dunes and his staff are the premier choice for serious racers who want to have the bottoms of their boat's faired and painted in this part of the country. Last year Waterline worked on my father's J/105 after a nasty run-in with a rock. The final product was spectacular. My father referred to the finished product as "a piece of art," and I couldn't agree more.
We met Kevin Coughlin at the new Waterline facility in Portsmouth, RI, and explained to him that Mark's boat had 20 years of cruising paint slapped on, and we felt it was hurting the boat's speed. His suggestion was just what we didn't want to hear. "You need to strip all the paint off down to the gelcoat, then apply three to four coats of barrier paint, followed by an ablative, growth-inhibiting bottom paint." Kevin suggested using Micron CSC for the bottom paint, but I hardly heard what he said about the paint, because my mind was frozen on the task of stripping off all that old paint. I've done this before and the job stinks! It means Tyvec suits, goggles, masks, gloves, power sanders, and hour upon tedious hour of sanding. I hate sanding.
Then Kevin provided the technical solution we were looking for. He said, "Forget sanding and use a paint stripper to take most of the paint off." It would be quicker he said, and would eliminate the awful clouds of blue dust flying off the sander and covering everything in the immediate area, including us. He suggested Interlux Interstripper. The idea was to liberally roll or paint the Interstripper on the bottom in sections, let it sit for 20 minutes or so, then scrape off the paint. With a bottom like Mark's, he thought it would take a couple of passes per section. Once most of the paint was off we would go over the area with acetone, which removes loose paint and thins out areas of high concentration. The acetone also removes any remaining stripper which, if left on for a prolonged period could result in gelcoat damage. Dunes chimed in with a disclaimer: "Make sure that you are completely protected; if you get any of the Interstripper on bare skin, wash it off immediately."
Despite being wary about such serious chemicals, this approach sounded like a good alternative to sanding. If we could get most of the paint of using the stripper we would then only have to do a quick sanding over the nearly bare underbody to remove lingering troubled spots and rough up the gelcoat in preparation for the first barrier coat.
|"When it comes to rigs or deck systems, Phil is my go-to guy because his advice is good and comes with no ego attached.|
Our next call was to Phil Garland of Hall Spars and Rigging. Hall engineers and constructs high-tech spars and rigging for racers and serious cruisers. Hall has worked with high-profile professional syndicates in the America Cup and other premier racing venues. (The Hall brothers, Eric and Ben, are also known for making wicked carbon hockey sticks.) Phil is a wealth of sailing knowledge and he has the big-boat belts to prove it. When it comes to rigs or deck systems, Phil is my go-to guy because his advice is good and comes with no ego attached.
I told Phil of the trouble Mark was having with the traveler. It would bind and was in the way. Then I explained how it was mounted in the cockpit just aft of the companionway. I told him of our idea to either move it forward on the coach top or all the way aft an mounted to the stern section. After a couple of questions, Phil suggested that the best set-up would be the Harken High Load Traveler car and track for small boats; the same system found on J/24s. This system reduces frition by using ball bearings to disperse the loads. It would be easy to release and would glide down the track without binding.
Phil said we'd be better off not moving the traveler. He felt that to move it forward would torque the boom too much when sheeted in and could eventually lead to boom failure. Moving it aft would not only cause the sheet lead to interfere with the tiller, it would load up the mast at the gooseneck when the sheet was tensioned, again possibly leading to damage. The problem that Mark was having with his old system was more due to the age and limited technology than the position of the traveler. Again, great advice! We never thought about the possible load transfer consequences of changing the traveler location.
Next we had to decide what genoa track system to use and the best way to install it. We found out after taking a closer look down below that this particular boat had a plastic headliner to cover the unfinished fiberglass on the underside of the deck. We would have to cut away some of this liner to install the track, and Mark was not thrilled with compromising the boat's aesthetics. Once again Phil had the solution. He told us to cut away the necessary liner and install the new track, and then use a nice piece of teak as the backing plate. The bolts would come through the teak and be secured with large fender washers and lock nuts, but the teak would add a bit of ornamentation that a metal backing plate lacks.
Our choice for track was either an adjustable car that can be moved under load or a simple car with a plunger-style set pin that could be easily moved, but not when the car was loaded. For Mark's sailing purposes we opted for the latter since he would not be racing much, and the adjustable system was twice the price. We decided to go with Schaeffer spring-loaded cars with 360 rotation. Our sailmaker would tell us the optimal track location and length. That was good enough for now. We'd get back to Phil about running rigging, outhaul systems, and a backstay when we got these other projects complete.
Our sailmaker, Rich Bowen of North Sails, came down and helped measure Mark's boat. We decided that since the genoa was the primary driving force of this type of boat we would upgrade to an aramid laminate with tri-radial construction. Mark would be sailing under the Naragansett Bay PHRF rules so we knew that he would do best (regarding his rating) with a 150-percent, all-purpose genoa. It would be slightly overbuilt to deliver a higher wind range, and the 150-percent LP was a good all-around size for a boat with one overlapping jib sailing on Narragansett Bay. We had no idea where to install the track for optimal sheeting, so we asked Rich if he could take the measurements and, using his design software, tell us the right location. No problem. Rich determined that the track should be 18.48 feet back from the headstay, and 3.4 feet from the centerline of the boat. This would give us an 11-degree sheeting angle. His suggestion was to use four feet of track. One foot would be mounted aft of the critical mark so we could depower the sail by moving the car aft, and three feet would go forward so smaller LP sails could be used. We also ordered a new mainsail from North.
Armed with this information, Mark and I were ready to start our project. The first task would be to strip the bottom. I was interested to see the results of using the Interstripper versus sanding. Would it really be as effective as Waterline said, and would we actually save time? Then we would let the bottom sit and paint it later when the weather gets warmer. In the meantime we could take off the old traveler and install the new one, and install the new genoa track. The work starts tomorrow, as long as we are not too busy shoveling our drivewaysagain.
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