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post #1 of 12 Old 12-11-2006 Thread Starter
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barnacles affecting steering

hey all!

I have a question for the forum...

I recently acquired my first sailboat, a 25 foot cal from 1972.

the boat has been moored for a long time with no maintenance performed on it, so it had about two inches of barnacles on the bottom.

I freed up the rudder, and decided to sail the boat to clear water to scrape the hull (the visibility in the mooring field was about a foot)

the boat wouldn't sail. the boat was steering maybe twenty degrees in either direction (upwind or downwind) stabilized on a reach. retrimming the sails and full rudder movement would only change the heading maybe thirty degrees.

after a LOT of work we managed to get the boat back to its mooring, but I'm hesitant to sail it again.

I've scraped the barnacles off most of the hull (I think thats the biggest thing keeping me from tacking, slowing the boat down and killing its inertia) but I can't reach the keel. remember, only a foot of visibility.

the rudder is completely cleaned off, and was before we tried sailing it.

do you think it would be safe to go out and try again with 90 percent of the barnacles off, or would the barnacle not cause control problems like that? I don;t know why we couldn't steer the boat onto a run.

all my experience is with smaller sub-20 foot sailboats, with the largest boat being a 20 foot typhoon capy dory. (about 35 hours total in it)

I'm sorry if the post seems short, I just typed out the entire story and then forgot to save it and the browser lost it

any advice?
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post #2 of 12 Old 12-11-2006
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If you have an auxiliary, try moving it under power.
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post #3 of 12 Old 12-11-2006 Thread Starter
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yep, we're considering buying a 3 horsepower or something just to do that. no aux is installed right now though. heck, we might just buy a dinghy and tow it out on that :-D
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post #4 of 12 Old 12-11-2006
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Barnacles have two significant effects on a sailboat. They create a tremendous amount of drag, which prevents the boat from gaining speed, and they disrupt the smooth flow of water over the keel, rudder and hull, which makes the boat difficult to control.

The barnacles on the hull and other surfaces create so much drag that the boat can't get up to speed. Without speed, a sailboat can't sail close to the wind. Without speed, the effects of the rudder and keel are reduced. The boat's performance will become, at the very least, sluggish, and at the worst, uncontrollable. It also can't tack to windward, because, when you put the helm over and the sails start to luff, the boat has to continue coasting through the turn until the bow crosses the wind and the wind fills your sails on the opposite tack. But, because of all the drag created by the barnacles, the boat won't coast far enough to bring its bow across the wind. It just coasts to a stop.

The keel enables the boat to sail to windward. Water flowing smoothly over its surface creates lift, and it resists the lateral drift of the boat. Barnacles on the keel not only disrupt that smooth flow of water that makes the keel work, but they also create drag, which retards the boat's speed and prevents it from coasting, as explained in the above paragraph.

You say that you have scraped the barnacles off the hull and rudder, and that you now only have barnacles on the keel. But, my guess is that, even though you have scraped the barnacles off those surfaces, they're still pretty rough, and are still creating a lot of speed-robbing drag. I can only guess, but I suspect that the barnacles on the keel and the remaining roughness on the hull and rudder are still going to make the boat extremely sluggish, and perhaps uncontrollable, under sail.

If you can scrape the barnacles off the keel, that might be enough to permit it to sail, sort of, but it's not going to sail very satisfactorily until you pull the boat out and do a proper bottom job.

I suggest you mount a motor on the boat, or have a friend help you tow it, to a place where you can pull it out and do a bottom job on it.

The good news is that the Cal 25 sails nicely and is a lot of fun to sail, so, if the boat is fundamentally sound, it should be well worth the effort.
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" but it's not going to sail very satisfactorily until you pull the boat out and do a proper bottom job. "
Amen.
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post #6 of 12 Old 12-11-2006 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailormon6
If you can scrape the barnacles off the keel, that might be enough to permit it to sail, sort of, but it's not going to sail very satisfactorily until you pull the boat out and do a proper bottom job.

I suggest you mount a motor on the boat, or have a friend help you tow it, to a place where you can pull it out and do a bottom job on it.

The good news is that the Cal 25 sails nicely and is a lot of fun to sail, so, if the boat is fundamentally sound, it should be well worth the effort.
thanks for your thorough response. I was afraid you were going to say that.

we got the sailboat for free, so i guess spending a few hundred to haul the thing out of the water is worth the net result.

happy sailing!
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-11-2006 Thread Starter
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one more question... is there any chance you think we could do a good bottom job ourselves with the boat in the water? If we can tow it to a five foot deep location in crystal clear water than we'd have pretty easy access the entire underside. It'd probably save us five hundred bucks, at least, right?
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You can CLEAN a bottom in the water, but from experience I'll tell you that it takes a long long time to do well. Among the problems, every time you push against the boat you move away from it, unless you can hold firm. Banging your head under the hull or working with sharp barnacles, ouch. It is somewhat faster with SCUBA, or if you can stand instead of being free.

But if you want the bottom to stay fairly clean, it will require bottom paint which requires hauling anyway. Sometimes you can get a break if you ask for an overnight haul--they haul you last thing in the day, the launch you again the next day, you do your work while it is in the sling and they're already off for the evening. A short haul like that *might* give you enough time to get it clean and get on two fast coats of bottom paint. But without bottom paint...you're going to have growth again, fast. Even with it, you may need to scrub weekly to really keep it clean.

And before there were slings...the traditional way to clean a bottom is to careen the boat. In tidal waters, you take it someplace where there is a soft (rock-free) sloping shore, pull it in, and as the tide runs out, lay it down on one side of the hull. Clean the exposed side, reverse and repeat as the tide changes. Probably not possible in Florida since you've got "no" tides?
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-11-2006
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The advice to Careen is good if you can't afford to slip but it's not just the matter of cleaning off the growth, unless you antifoul the thing the growth will be back in no time flat.

If the growth is really bad then you are going to need a water jet to clean it off or you will be scrapping for eons. You might also consider the fact that if the boat has been unloved for quite some time then there may be other work required below water line. Prop shaft anode to begin with, through hulls may be so clagged up that you'll need to take them off for cleaning or even replacement, rudder stock and shaft may need work.

It's also often the case when you pull a boat out of the water that the beard under the keel is much worse than the growth you can see from above water. You will be amazed by how much crap you are hauling around and you'll be absolutely stunned by her sailing performance when she is clean and painted.

Andrew B (Malö 39 Classic)

“Life is a trick, and you get one chance to learn it.”
― Terry Pratchett.
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-11-2006
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If you just got the boat, it is probably worth while hauling it. If barnacles have been on the gelcoat for a while, they can actually damage it and cause damage to the underlying laminate... nasty beasties...




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