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post #41 of 130 Old 10-01-2009 Thread Starter
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Heavy Weather Points of Sail

Usually I'll pull in a post or two that prove stellar saltiness. But this whole damn thread deserves hall of fame status:

Heavy Weather Points of Sail

It's a tremendous example of how cool the salts are here at SN.
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post #42 of 130 Old 10-03-2009
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While I don't consider myself a "salt", too young for that, I have been sailing, commercial fishing, worked in boat yards, doing deliveries and in general boating for over 38 years. If some consider that salty enough so be it..

Anchoring is a sore spot for me with many boaters because I witness soooo much bad anchoring skills that it scares me. I have also helped kedge and pull a good many boats off the rocks, in my years on the water, that should have never been there in the first place, if proper technique had been employed. This is only a guide, not a bible. Others may do it slightly differently but the consistently successful ones will all employ good technique.

Here's a quick run down on the anchoring technique I generally use. Even with extra crew on board I anchor & moor solo about 85-90% of the time.

This is perhaps the single most important and over looked aspect of anchoring and setting your ground tackle. Scope is the angle of attack, if you will, of the rode or anchor line in relation to the bottom. The longer the scope the more parallel to the bottom the rode will be and the less likely to yank the anchor out from a more vertical pull. A short or steep scope angle will most certainly yank the anchor out of the bottom and will not hold well when the wind pipes up.

How do I know what my scope should be?

Scope is easily calculated, but often calculated incorrectly. Scope is simply the max water depth, plus the distance of your bow chock or cleat to the water, plus any off set for your depth transducer. Huh?

Ok, you pull into an anchorage at low tide and it has a current water depth of 10 feet. The area you are in has a ten-foot tidal range, Maine or the Canadian Maritimes. So your max water depth will be 20 feet. You know your bow chock is 4 feet off the water and your depth transducer is 1 foot bellow the surface, and not calibrated as such. So you simply add 20 feet of water depth, to 4 feet of bow height, to 1 foot of transducer depth for a total of 25 feet of scope basis to get to a 7:1 scope.

To set your anchor you'll want to be using a minimum of 5:1 scope but the preferred setting scope remains 7:1. So the 10 feet of water you read on your depth sounder was actually 11 because your transducer is a foot bellow the waters surface and when the tide is added to the bow height your 10 feet of water depth turned into 25.

So let’s pretend you think you set your anchor at a 5:1 scope, based on the 10 feet of water depth you saw on your depth gauge. Don't feel bad as many sailors and boaters do this. A 5:1 scope for 10 feet is simple, it’s 5 X 10 = 50 feet of scope. Oh, oh the tide comes in and you have mis-calculated your scope at a mere 50 feet! For the example from above you now actually have 25 feet of depth from the bottom of the ocean to your bow cleat or chock, not the ten feet you mistakenly calculated.

For this same 5:1 scope you would need 125 feet of rode, not 50 feet. 50 feet of rode for a 25 foot scope basis is a very dangerous, and potentialy baoat destroying, 2:1 scope, or almost vertical at high tide. You are nowhere near a 5:1 with 50 feet in 10 feet of depth once the tide comes in. Again, this is a very common mistake. Calculate scope carefully and always add the bow height and max tidal depth.

Rode: This is the second most overlooked aspect of anchoring. At a minimum you'll probably want to be using 1.5 times the boat length of chain then a suitably sized, & elastic in nature, nylon rode. A bare minimum of chain length would be one times the boats length despite what some anchor manufacturers recommend. Chain also prevents abrasion of the rode on underwater coral or rocks. An all chain rode is always better but you will need to use a very elastic snubber to prevent shock loading of the chain in rough winds.

Why is the chain important?

The chain serves a few purposes: 1) It serves as a weight to help prevent the anchor line from snapping tight in light to moderate conditions. It also keeps a curve or caternary in it during mild to moderate winds helping to keep the angle of attack on the anchor correct. In high winds a sentinel or kellet may be needed to maintain caternary but even kellets stop working as the wind rises. 2) It prevents the nylon anchor line or rode from chafing on coral or rocks on the bottom. 3) It aids the anchor in proper setting by keeping the shank down so the flukes/fluke can penetrate when backing down.

Anchors: All anchors are not created equal and there is far too much to be written on this here. Some anchors do not re-set well on a wind and tide shift and thus should not be used when a wind or tide shift is expected. Some anchors perform better than others do for certain bottom types and it should be up to the boat owner to thoroughly research which anchor will perform best for his or her environment.

In a general summary Danforth types, which include the Fortress, do not always like to re-set on wind and tide, reliably. Bruce or Claw styles are generally good setters and re-setters but offer lower holding power and should be up sized at least one or two sizes beyond the original recommended sizes. World cruisers, and authors, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger use a claw that is a full five sizes bigger than the manufacturers recommendation.

CQR’s or plow styles can give false sets (see photo) and should always be properly set and then checked for set by backing down.

The new generation anchors such as Spade, Rocna & Manson Supreme & Bullwega are generally excellent performers, and practically set them selves, but they are not the be all end all's, there is no perfect anchor, and should also always be set and checked for set...

When I mention partially set CQR's this photo is exactly what I'm referring to. This pictured CQR is absolutely not set enough for a sudden storm.

Photo From Sail Magazine Anchor Test Report:


#1) Examine the anchorage: Make careful observations & based on weather predictions chose a spot that will be better protected from the prevailing winds and listen to the forecast predictions. Also take note of how others are anchored and envision a 7:1 scope to mentally picture where their anchor might be on the bottom in relation to their bow. DO NOT drop your hook on top of someones anchor.

If everyone is bow and stern anchored you'll want to do the same, or there will be “swinging” issues! If everyone is bow anchored only please, please, please do not bow and stern anchor. All boats must swing naturally, and in unison with the tide, current or winds. If one boat is bow and stern anchored it will not swing with the crowd and there will be fiberglass on fiberglass contact. Been there, witnessed it..

Anchoring contradictory to the crowd already there is generally rude and inconsiderate. Boats on permanent moorings are for the most part in most locales on a 2:1 scope and will swing around their bows, but will move very little compared to a boat on a 7:1 anchor scope so be careful and stay far enough away from anchoring near permanently moored boats.

In light air, boats with an all chain rode will not swing as far, or as fast, as those using a nylon/chain rode so take note of who has all chain to the deck. Choose your spot and visualize your boat swinging in unison with the others in a 360 pattern. If your spot has you hitting other boats during this 360 visualization exercise find a new one..

#2) Prepare & set: Once you’ve determined your “spot” calculate your scope as described above. For the best results use 7:1 for setting. 5:1 is an absolute bare minimum for setting and should be avoided if you want consistent results. As you approach your “spot” shorten the dinghy painter so it will not foul the prop when backing down. Slide the gear shifter into neutral and gently glide past, and over, where you actually want the anchor to set. Once beyond your “spot” slip it into reverse and get the boat going in a straight line backwards but SLOWLY at perhaps .3 to .5 knots. Lock the wheel or tiller to keep her as straight as possible and walk carefully & slowly to the bow.

#3 Play out the rode:
As you begin to move backwards begin playing out the rode. Do not just drop a pile of chain or rode to the bottom, it will tangle the flukes. The rode must be played out while moving backwards, gently and methodically. As you begin to get to about a 4:1 (your rode should be marked in feet or meters) gently snub the anchor for a test bite. This will orient the anchor to a proper setting angle if it has not already happened. If you begin to feel resistance let off your snub and continue playing out line until you hit 7:1+ gently snubbing along the way every now and then. If your boat is falling off the wind these test bite snubs will orient the bow into the wind, and direction of the anchor, so you'll know it's biting.The greater the scope used in setting the better the result and better the odds of a first try set will be.

#4 Setting the Anchor:
You're not done yet.. With the boat at 7:1, with a good test bite on the hulls backwards momentum, let the weight of the boat and the remaining momentum partially set the anchor and come to a stop. Once the boat has finished stopping, and is back to a taught line, not jerked forward from nylon rode stretch, run the engine up to full cruise RPM, usually 80% of max rated throttle, and finish setting or burying the anchor. With small outboards you'll likely want to use full reverse as they tend to have lower reverse thrust when compared to inboard engines. If the anchor moves or drags you’ll need to start over.

No small AUX sailboat engine should be able to budge a properly sized and set anchor for the given boat. If it does you need new ground tackle or need to re-set and try again.

For example 30 knots on a 36 foot sloop is about 900 pounds of force on the anchor. My 36 footer has a 44 h.p. diesel spinning a 16" prop and can only develop just over 500 pounds of reverse thrust at 80% of max throttle, or nearly 50% less applied force to the anchor than 30 knots. You do not need to worry about "ripping your anchor out" by applying lots of reverse thrust unless you get a running start, with slack rode, and you have the revers thrust of the engine then added to the boats 17,000 pounds of displacement inertia. I find it best to begin the back down & set with a taught rode vs. one with slack in it.

This last step, 80% of max throttle, is very important and is one many overlook. Bottoms are often made of “layers” and the top silt layer is easily penetrable and will hold fine in light conditions but not moderate or high winds. You want to dig the anchor into the next layer, the one that is much harder, and will hold even in high winds to be properly set.

I have spent a good deal of time diving on anchors and I can assure you a solid 80% of the anchors out there are not properly set. With CQR’s this is usually represented by a partial sideways set meaning it is laying on its side with the tip partially buried. Bruce/Claw anchors can exhibit a similar behavior. There was a perfect picture of a CQR doing this in the Sail Magazine anchor-testing article from last year which I have added to thsi post. If you are not back-winding the sails or using upwards of 80% of your engines capacity your anchor is probably not really well "set checked".

#5 Shortening scope: Now that you set the anchor it is somewhat safe, depending on your choice of anchor, and chain/rode configuration, to shorten to a safer swinging scope for the anchorage you’re in. 4:1 is the generally accepted minimum for calm conditions or winds bellow 10 knots but I have used 3:1 before in a very protected spot with minimal swing room and an anchor that can handle 3:1.

5:1 can usually be safe to around 14-15+/- and any wind speeds over that you will generally want more scope. Try and pick areas that will allow you to use the max allowable scope in case of a micro-burst or sudden storms or high winds. If you leave your self only enough room for 4:1 you’ll likely get precisely what you ordered, the “disaster plate special with a side order of heartburn and severe anxiety”. Doh'....

Hope this helps and that I did not forget anything. Feel free to add any tips I forgot. Anchoring is one of the most important aspects of boating and one that is often overlooked...

-Maine Sail / CS-36T

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 10-03-2009 at 11:02 PM.
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post #43 of 130 Old 10-03-2009 Thread Starter
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Awesome post Maine! And dude, you may not be old, but you're seriously salty. Thanks for the contribution.
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post #44 of 130 Old 10-08-2009 Thread Starter
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Here's one of my favorite posts from one of my favorite salts - Knothead. It's from the "SupaShakedown Checklist" thread. And it's a great view of the all-things-gear-and-preparation versus can-you-ever-fully-prepare conundrum from a very experience rigger...

Originally Posted by knothead View Post
I am really surprised that I only learned of this thread this very evening.
Although I usually check the current posts everyday, somehow this thread eluded me.

Smack, I truly don't think there is any possible way to define a checklist that would be applicable to everyone.

Some of us won't drive our car for longer than a week without checking the tire pressure and oil level. Some of us will go for months. Some of us don't think about it at all. And if it's wasn't for the fact that we had periodic scheduled maintenance, our cars would stop running someday and leave us stranded on the side of the road.

And then there are those instances where the most diligent and conscientious person imaginable is driving down the road and a huge fuc&ing boulder falls on them and crushes them to pulp.

I guess what I'm saying is that while the theories abound about whether it's better to have a fast boat in order to outrun the nasty stuff or a slow strong boat that can withstand a beating. Or whether a particular item or piece of gear that you hope you will never need is better than another piece of gear that you hope you will never need. Or whether or not to crimp or solder a piece of wire or to do both. Whether to use 5200 or silicone to caulk your ports.
While it's all well and good to debate these and all the other endless fine points of proper seamanship. When the Shi# hits the fan, it's whether or not you can keep a cool head and whether or not you can suck it up and figure out a way to jury rig a rudder. Or repair a gooseneck fitting with a bunch of spare crap that you find in long forgotten cupboards.
The very nature of an emergency is the the fact that often you aren't prepared for it.

My best advice is that one should be adventurous. One should be prudent. One should be realistic. But most importantly, one should be responsible.
That doesn't mean that one shouldn't be willing to take chances or to push the envelope. It just means that one should always be prepared to take responsibility for one's choices and decisions. No excuses, no whining or bitching and no blaming anybody else for one's own shortcomings.

And for what it's worth, people would be amazed at what one can accomplish with a hacksaw and a whole lot of adrenalin.

And finally, when we finally get to the point where we realize that it's all beyond our control, a strong prayer life is of more comfort than the best epirb.
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post #45 of 130 Old 11-11-2009 Thread Starter
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Anyone else seen some good salty answers around? Let me know and I'll lug 'em over here.

I just pointed a dude to Main's radar write up. Good stuff.

Let's keep it going. What's the best Gear and Maintenance mojo you've seen?

Last edited by smackdaddy; 11-11-2009 at 08:01 PM.
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post #46 of 130 Old 11-12-2009 Thread Starter
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I thought this was a good brief summary to the "Cost of Ownership" question....

Originally Posted by GreatWhite View Post
Don't forget sounds like you can source that your self.

as has been mentioned it depends on the standard to which you want to keep the boat. This is something you might want to decide this ahead of time. It is possible to spend little and have the boat slowly deteriorate or spend in the neighborhood of a $1000 or two a year and probably keep a good old boat roughly in the shape it is in (this is an estimate only a good survey will help identify any upcoming short term - medium and possibly some long term repairs).

Here is a very rough guide to a budget (beyond moorage, licencing, insurance, consumables, etc):

Bottom paint every couple of years varies by area but I would guess about $800-$1000 for a Cal 30 if you outsource. Diving every couple of months (again depending on area for frequency would probably be a few hundred).
New batteries every few years. ($250 for one agm $120 for a standard deep cycle)
One new halyard or jib sheet once a year should keep running rigging in good shape . $100/ year. Or a bunch a once would probable last a few years.
Stuff that breaks...$100 or up depending on use and condition
A new sail every few years $1200.
New cushions $3000 (approx) every 10-20 years.
New toys (equipment)
Engine maintenance $100 per year. (depends on condition)
Standing rigging (answered by survey)
deck, stanchions, life lines (survey)
Upgrades for things the boat doesn't after sailing for a while $100- the sky is the limit- maybe a few hundered)
Upgrade lines to head - once every few years ($100 plus labor)

miscellaneous (a few hundrered - maybe)

I know got a $7000 - 24 foot boat and spent another $5000 by the time I sold it 4 years later...but I installed a spinnaker and bought another new Genoa, redid the bottom, did $1000 maintenance on the Honda out board and kept the boat in good shape but also received the boat in good overall shape.

I bought a $23000, 30 foot this year and spent $1500 on the motor and just spent $1800 on a sail.

How about EVERYTHING you've got!!!!!
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post #47 of 130 Old 11-18-2009 Thread Starter
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Here's another good answer from Jeff on the lifespan of a typical fiberglass hull...replete with his wonton embarrassment emoticons...

Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
"I would not think that a well- constructed fiberglass has a life span per se. Neither concrete nor fiberglass inherently breaks down or loses strength simply on their own without other factors coming into play. They require other causes. In the case of fiberglass loss of strength can result from one or more of the following,

-The surface resins will UV degrade.
-Prolonged saturation with water will affect the byproducts formed in the hardening process turning some into acids. These acids can break down the bond between the glass reinforcing and the resin.
-Fiberglass is prone to fatigue in areas repetitively loaded and unloaded at the point where it is repetitively deflected. High load concentration areas such as at bulkheads, hull/deck joints and keel joints are particularly prone.
-Salts suspended in water will move through some of the larger capillaries within the matrix. Salts have larger molecules than water. At some point these salts cannot move further and are deposited as the water keeps moving toward an area with lower moisture content. Once dried these salt turn into a crystalline form and exert great pressure on the adjacent matrix.
-Poor construction techniques with poorly handled cloth, poorly mixed or over accelerated resins, and poor resin to fiber ratios were very typical in early fiberglass boats. These weaker areas can be actually subjected to higher stresses that result from much heavier boats. It’s not all that unusual to see small spider cracking and/or small fractures in early glass boats.
-Of course beyond the simple fiberglass degradation there is core deterioration, and the deterioration of such things as the plywood bulkheads and flats that form a part of the boat’s structure.

Earlier boats had heavier hulls for a lot of reasons beyond the myth that designers did not know how strong fiberglass was. Designers knew exactly how strong the fiberglass of that era actually was. The U.S. government had spent a fortune developing fiberglass information during WWII and by the early 1950’s designers had easy access to the design characteristics of fiberglass. (Alberg, for example, was working for the US Government designing F.G. composite items when he designed the Triton and Alberg 35) The reason that the hulls on the early boats were as thick as they were had more to do with the early approach to the design of fiberglass boats and the limitations of the materials and handling methods used in early fiberglass boats. Early designers and builders had hoped to use fiberglass as a monocoque structure using an absolute minimal amount (if any) framing which they felt occupied otherwise usable interior space.

On its own, fiberglass laminate does not develop much stiffness (by which I mean resistance to flexure) and it is very dense. If you try to create the kind of stiffness in fiberglass that designers had experienced in wooden boats, it takes a whole lot of thickness which in turn means a whole lot of weight. Early fiberglass boat designers tried to simply use the skin of the boat for stiffness with wide spread supports from bulkheads and bunk flats. This lead to incredibly heavy boats and boats that were still comparably flexible compared to earlier wooden boats or more modern designs. (In early designs that were built in both wood and fiberglass, the wooden boats typically weighed the same as the fiberglass boats but were stiffer, stronger, and had higher ballast ratios)

The large amount of flexure in these old boats was a real problem over the life of the boat. Fiberglass hates to be flexed. Fiberglass is a highly fatigue prone material and over time it looses strength through flexing cycles. A flexible boat may have plenty of reserve strength when new but over time through flexure fiberglass loses this reserve. There are really several things that determine the overall strength of the hull itself. In simple terms it is the strength of the unsupported hull panel itself (by 'panel' I mean the area of the hull or deck between supporting structures), the size of the unsupported panel, the connections to supporting structures and the strength of the supporting structures. These early boats had huge panel sizes compared to those seen as appropriate today and the connections were often lightly done.

This fatigue issue is not a minor one. In a study performed by the marine insurance industry looking at the high cost of claims made on older boats relative to newer boats and actually doing destructive testing on actual portions of older hulls, it was found that many of these earlier boats have suffered a significant loss of ductility and impact resistance. This problem is especially prevalent in heavier uncored boats constructed even as late as the 1980's before internal structural framing systems became the norm. The study noted that boats built during the early years of boat building tended to use a lot more resin accelerators than are used today. Boat builders would bulk up the matrix with resin rich laminations (approaching 50/50 ratios rather than the idea 30/70), and typically used proportionately high ratios of non-directional fabrics (mat or chopped glass) in order to achieve a desired hull thickness. Resin rich laminates and non-directional materials have been shown to reduce impact resistance and to further increase the tendency towards fatigue. The absence of internal framing means that there is greater flexure in these older boats and that this flexure increases fatigue further. Apparently, there are an increasing number of marine insurance underwriters refusing to insure older boats because of these issues.

I have been looking at a lot of older fiberglass boats in the past few years. One thing that has struck me is the sheer amount of noticeable flexure cracking in areas of high stress, such as bulkheads, chainplate attachment points, hull to deck joints, cabin to deck lines, engine beds and rudder posts, and other high load hardware positions.

There are probably other forms of hull degradation that I have not mentioned but I think that the real end of the life of a boat is going to be economic. In other words the cost to maintain and repair an old boat will get to be far beyond what it is worth in the marketplace. I would guess this was the end of more wooden boats than rot. I can give you a bit of an example from land structures. When I was doing my thesis in college, I came across a government statistic, which if I remember it correctly suggested that in the years between 1948 and 1973 more houses had been built in America than in all of history before that time. In another study these houses were estimated to have a useful life span of 35 years or so. As an architect today I see a lot of thirty five year old houses that need new bathrooms, kitchens, heating systems, modern insulation, floor finishes, etc. But beyond the physical problems of these houses, tastes have changes so that today these houses in perfect shape still has proportionately small market value. With such a small market value it often does not make sense from a resale point of view to rebuild and these houses are therefore often sold for little more than land value. At some level, this drives me crazy, since we are tearing down perfectly solid structures that 35 years ago was perfectly adequate for the people who built it, but today does not meet the “modern” standards.

The same thing happens in boats. You may find a boat that has a perfectly sound hull. Perhaps it needs sails, standing and running rigging, a bit of galley updating, some minor electronics, a bit of rewiring, new plumbing, upholstery, a little deck core work, an engine rebuild, or for the big spender, replacement. Pretty soon you can buy a much newer boat with all relatively new gear for less than you’d have in the old girl. Its not hard for an old boat to suddenly be worth more as salvage than as a boat. A couple years ago a couple friends of mine were given a Rainbow in reasonable shape. She just needed sails and they wanted a newer auxiliary, but even buying everything used the boat was worth a lot less than the cost of the “new” parts. When they couldn’t afford the slip fees, the Rainbow was disposed of. She now graces a landfill and the cast iron keel was sold for scrap for more than they could sell the whole boat for.

Then there is the issue of maintainable vs. durable/low maintenance design concepts. Wooden boats for example represent the difference between a maintainable construction method versus a low maintenance/ durable method. A wooden boat can be rebuilt for a nearly infinite period of time until it becomes a sailing equivalent of ‘George Washington’s axe’ (as in “that’s George Washington’s axe. It’s had a few new handles and a few new heads but that is still George Washington’s axe”.) The main structure of a fiberglass hull is reasonably durable and low maintenance but once it has begun to lose strength, there is nothing that you can do.

The best deals on older used boats are the ones that someone has lovingly restored, upgraded, and maintained. Over the years they have poured lots of money and lavished lots of time into maintaining the boat in reasonably up to date condition. No matter how much they have spent the boat will never be worth anything near what they have in it because there is a real ceiling to how much an older boat will ever be worth and they will often have several times that ceiling invested.

And finally if you buy an old fiberglass boat, paint the bilges white. It does nothing for the boat, but if you ever have to sell the boat, then someone may look in your bilge and say “Lets buy her because any owner who would love a boat so much that he went through the trouble to paint the bilge white must have enjoyed this boat and taken great care of her no matter what her age.”
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post #48 of 130 Old 11-18-2009
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Then there is the issue of maintainable vs. durable/low maintenance design concepts. Wooden boats for example represent the difference between a maintainable construction method versus a low maintenance/ durable method. A wooden boat can be rebuilt for a nearly infinite period of time until it becomes a sailing equivalent of ‘George Washington’s axe’ (as in “that’s George Washington’s axe. It’s had a few new handles and a few new heads but that is still George Washington’s axe”.) The main structure of a fiberglass hull is reasonably durable and low maintenance but once it has begun to lose strength, there is nothing that you can do.
Just a couple of additions to an otheriwise great post:
1- unlike glass, wood doesn't care how many times it's flexed (imagine how many cycles a redwood or bristlecone pine has gone through in 4000+years).

2- yes, wood parts can be replaced as long as you have a saw and fasteners. But, with proper care and maintenance (paint etc.) that piece may not need replacing for 100+ years (if ever- see #1 above).

3- on wood boats, metal fastenings are usually more a longevity concern than the wooden structure they hold together *( it's always something). Saw a trunnel fastened skiff where the fasteners lasted 120+years.
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post #49 of 130 Old 11-18-2009
Learning the HARD way...
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Thumbs up A few more

Smack - I wasn't a fan of this thread when I first read the title. I use the "add post to favorites" feature to do much the same thing. However, after reading several of your re-posts, I see that there is a LOT of value to sharing what different individuals have determined as valuable posts.

So here are a couple of my favorite "salty" posts.

Storm Prep
Pre-Voyage Checklist
Pre-Sail Checklist

P.S. MainSail, IMHO, is salty enough to put on chips.

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Last edited by eherlihy; 11-18-2009 at 11:46 AM.
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Cool - thanks for the additions corm and herli.

I just think it's convenient for people to be able come to one place and get a wide range of great answers on frequently asked questions. It saves them having to research from scratch - and gives them a jumping-off place to go to those threads where the stuff they are interested in is discussed. And it saves the old farts (ehh...salts) from having to answer the same questions over and over. So it's a win/win.

Yeah - some people harsh me for simply being a cutter-and-paster, but who cares? It's about making learning easier for us newbs. So scroom.

And herli, you're right on about Main. Salt and Vinegar baby...the real deal.
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