R & D      

This season has so far been quiet in terms of Restless surgery. A spurt earlier in the year with sprayhoods and biminis is still cooking quietly, but we have been overwhelmed with our current project, casting hand bones in various gestures. An excellent engineering task, recreating in form at least the incredible design that lies beneath our skin. As an added bonus our foundry of choice casts alot of surgical instruments, so our project went from bronze to a mix of ACT22 (surgical) and 316 (marine) grade stainless steel.
Stainless steel. That magical shiny metal that all modern yachts rely on, and even worse, a commodity that yacht owners often are required to buy at a painful price.
To confuse matters even further, not all stainless is the same. Years ago I temped as a welder at a boatyard importing big motor cruisers from the far east. By the time they arrived, some of the fittings had corroded so badly that one wonders how it could have been called stainless at all.
Foraying around the scrapyard also becomes tricky. On occaision I have found some home built contraption unexpectedly rusting. Guaranteed 316 carries a 30% surcharge over ungraded, and there is no way of telling the difference without serious analytic equipment.
So what is 316 stainless steel? An iron alloy that contains 16-18% chrome, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum and a smidgen of carbon. Oddly, the nickel content is what causes the iron to lose its magnetic properties. An important property of austenistic 316 is its' weldability. Some grades suffer alloy separation and oxidation at the weld resulting in a compromised junction. Not good when one may need to rely completely on its reliability.

So spending alot of time at the foundry casting this same material, I have spent many a daydream wondering what super goodies I could be making for Restless. Not only that, but I have now got everything sorted out to the point where I can create parts on my laptop, email them, and go pick up the lasercut pieces a few days later. Fantastic.

Well, so I though till I picked my parts up. Even paying cash at cost was an awfull eye-opener. £10 for a square 140mm in 6mm polished 316 plate, 0.95Kg. Ouch. A very rapid calculation later and my dreams of making a beautiful stainless delta anchor vanished. Worse was to come too, as I calculated the cost of getting items cast. I had to pay £360 for my pour. The max weight I could get was 15Kg, 5 of which was simply the primary runner system! So my castings come in at £36/Kg. Plus the time involved in taking a casting from raw to polished... Oddly enough Gibb, Selden and Lewmar all cast components here as well. More dreams vanished. My 0.5Kg 8" cleats cost me £20 from a discount chandlery. As long as the grade is not dodgy, then these really are a bargain.
Stainless is horrific to polish. The 'sanding belts' used industrially cost around £100 for the larger ones, and they do not last long. Without them the man hours in polishing doubles. This is one of the vilest filthiest tasks in engineering that most would not touch with a barge pole.

So spare a thought for the local swindlery, by the time they put even a reasonable margin on that dear old 316, the costs are just heavy. However, there is no need to extend the pity to purchasing their little packs of screws, for there they put you on a rack over a barrell. Look up a local supplier and for the same pile o pennies you'll get at least 5x the quantity of those cute 316 allen head button top M6 bolts...

The rest of our endeavours can be seen at www.beautifulbones.co.uk





  Mac Canvas      


As many of you know I proposed to make up stainless fittings for pedestals, biminis and sprayhoods, based on the set of Vice Rolys' setup. Whilst getting the absolute best deal possible this side of Consantinople, the cost of our dear dear 316 is as painful as ever. The other shocker was the price in the fittings for the tubes, again significant. Even the semi-nylon option was not much better. And then the complications of positioning!!! The hours I spent moving tubes about tied on with bits of string whilst trying to imagine clearances between other various components and ropes really was mentaly draining. Eventually I put the mast up in the drive via a crazy Heath Robinson type method of string, ladders and counterweights. (Trailer had no wheels on, and the mast had to poke down the gap between the houses and raise to roof level at an angle I dare not admit in print)

Anyway, Time and experiaments were starting to come together as I tried to have my cake and eat it. A major setback came when my seamstress backed out of the main canvas work. This then dropped the project in full silly season. I have found someone now who seems reasonable with a competent premesis.

Back to the design. Mandy told me to get on with making our own hood, as we had some free time while the foundry gingerly pushed our other project through their process. What was to take 1 week worked out at 5, so in that timeframe with lots of stops and starts, Mrs & I muddled through our selection of this years Macmods.

  Sprayhood. Ok, this is simply nasty. Compromise all over the place. The argument in the US rages over 'wide' or 'narrow'. Well I'm having the best of both. The compromise is in having zip on wide sides. Personally I think the concept is excellent, but I have yet to take this to trial. It has played havoc with my lines led aft and their jammers, but I think the current plan is going to effectivly work around all the major headaches. The other bit of sneaky cunningness I'm planning to secretly include are some grp rods in the outer edges of the hood, thereby making a smaller hood into a bigger one without being as big as it seems. Tardis technology. Who? Anyway, not only does this give really cosy protection, it can be taken off completely, or only on one side so getting frd will never be an issue. I also think it is a very aesthetically pleasing line. Without the sides on, the hood will be as in above left. Practical. Not quite so sexy, but it keeps alot of rain out and leaves the deck clutter free.      

Bimini: On an M these poles can be fitted to cars that sit on the geny track and that's that. However, an X is different (& better). Our tracks can be extended (option1, about £80ish extra, delux replace with super sexy cars & smooth SS tracks £130) Mrs ok'd the supersexy option and I was just about to place the order when I had one of those little damn nagging tugs in my head saying 'you can do better here'. I had a horrible fight with my vanity (tied up with crowds of onlookers gazing at the smooth polished rails and plungerless cars screaming sex appeal so loud that women were struggling to keep their clothes on) and went for a fixed deck fitting. To make this work meant that I would have to add an extra support pole at the rear. I held my breath and comitted. I did my best to recoup some of the lost sex appeal by using a few quick-detach (QD) pins and threw the set up together. London rally was approaching fast. I got busy with my lovingly restored old singer and thrashed out a zip on bimini cover. I also managed to squeeze a couple of cockpit dodgers into the equation, as well as a stack-pack.

London came, we went, and trials were conducted. With a bimini, you'll need to have it well out of the way at times (like when sailing in F7 and above), you'll need to flatten it at times (like under bridges or tunnels), and in operation, it will need to offer primary protection to the helm from sun or rain. So ideally. the helmsmans head ought to be slap bang in the middle of the canvas. And so it goes on. (It occurs to me that I could write a major article on this bit alone!) In a nutshell, the design was absolutely spot on. There are a couple issues that I have yet to deal with that are sort of in hand, particularly the fact that a good bimini fouls the backstay(s). This will require little more than a fairlead to correct as the frame is really strong. I also need to add a mast support roller as my older X has the stupid floppy finger arrangement.

  The rear supports (stbd side behind flag) keep the frame sturdy, with a couple of straps on the leading edge keeping the whole set up taught when in use. When not required, it simply folds out of the way and remains as an arch. Quite handy really. The supports have qd pins so the whole lot can be swung forward to clear a low bridge. On this trip I ditched the helm seat. Really did not miss it at all! Makes her look a bit more like a real yacht too...      

  Dodgers. Relativly straight forward. I've moved and upgraded our rear cleats back beyond the stanchions so the mooring warps won't foul the canvas. Better than having flaps for when tied up I think. The top has the guard rail running through a sewn in loop, the bottom shock corded onto lacing hooks. It fouls my rear winches a little, but I'm not racing so don't think I mind yet. I'm allowing provision to have these components integrate to a full enclosure.      

Stacpack. This was quite a fun job. I had Rolys to copy, and even with my inevitable tweaks found this straight forward if technically challenging. Make sense?? Silly things like where do you get a 3m straight edge/ruler from? What do you mark black canvas with? Can you roll this much material out somewhere to mark and cut. Holding 3m zips to cloth (can't use pins.. I used handbag paper clips) etc etc. Anyway, if you have an old singer, it can be done. It's not rocket science. I made a couple of tiny errors.. but nobody will ever know!
One mod I did do after reading up on the US site was to slim the pack down by adding a slug gate. The US version was really fiddly. Rick gave me the ultimate proper British solution. Bash it with a hammer, rubber one if poss.





The London job.. brilliant. Great start to the season. A real surprise bonus of a Mac. Mrs asked when are we off out next. I love the attitude. I looked at Restless, my list of jobs, and my list of things to do before taking her to sea. Oh dear.. won't be for a while yet. Ultimately our plan is to spend a month or three aboard abroad. Consequently I am scrutinizing every aspect and corner of this boat to make this a safe, practical and comfortable reality.
The downside of Macsurgery is not having the boat ready for a quick getaway. I often wonder about this concept. We generally take a day to prepare and a few hours to launch(!). Too many rigging mods to get a well drilled routine. We never go out for less than 4 days at least. It takes a day or so to get into the swing of floating, and another day or so to settle into all the intricate daily routines.

All too often we are obliged to come back for one reason or another at literally the moment we're starting to ba at one with life onboard. It needs strict discipline in order to experience real freedom. Hmm. I've heard something similar to that before somewhere in the realms of philosophy. Is this whole sailing lark all about training ourselves to be observe strict routine and hierarchy in order to enjoy the fruits of good passage and pleasant destinations? I feel that there is a massive moral to life here somewhere...

There are some great rallies coming up. This is England, and I know it rains. But the adventures are going to happen. All you need is a boat, and your Mac is a splendid vessel. These boats are eager to get scratched, bumped, bounced about in a lively manner, lived in, cursed at and ultimately loved for a lifetime. However you need to add water to let them grow. Nothing worse than a rotting boat full of dreams.