Friday, March 28, 2014

The Light Is Returning

As I sit here with a horrible headache, fever, and nausea I look out to a rainy day here in Connecticut. The hope that I feel is that this very cold and long winter is finally drawing to a close and that I can start to give Bigtooth some tender loving care. This all starts with fixing all of the leaks that Bigtooth has and fortunately for me they are all on the deck when it rains and not through the hull. There are several places that are soft the largest being the foredeck on the port side. It looks like I will have to cut the top layer of fiberglass off, remove the damaged core, replace the core with new dry core, and patch the fiberglass back on. I will be following the instruction of Andy Miller of Boat Works Today. If you have not watched his instructional videos yet you don't know what you are missing. His is doing a great job for those of us who are handy but don't know where to start. I have sent Andy emails with questions and he has gotten back to me quickly and with great advise. If you find value in his work please consider going to his donation page to help fund his website and videos.

I will also remove, clean, and hopefully reuse the two hatches, four opening portlights, and two fixed lights. After the core is fixed and a nice coat of Awlgrip with non-skid is applied I will bed all of the hardware using the method on the Compass Marine website using butyl tape. This is another great source for boat repair information and step-by-step instructions and great pictures.

This year we will not have Bigtooth put back into the water so that all these repairs can be completed by the end of summer. The last project for this year will be to assemble the Kover Klamps frame that I have purchased and fabricate a winter boat cover using Top Gun© fabric and the information from Sailrite's Make Your Own Winter Boat Cover DVD.

This is an ambitious plan for this summer and I am looking forward to having a dry boat by the end of summer and starting on the interior the following year while we are sailing her on the Long Island Sound again. As always any comments or suggestions that you have are welcomed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting ready for the New England winter.

Bigtooth has been hauled from the water and is sitting on stands at the boat yard. I have started to winterize her and so far the engine, head, and fresh water systems have been finished. I did have to wait a week to winterize her since the batteries were both dead when I went to the boat yard a couple weeks ago and had to wait for another day off when it was not raining. This raises the question as to why the batteries were dead. The main switch was turned off and it was just sitting on stands. Seems that I have a short somewhere that will have to be found and corrected. Since we are keeping Bigtooth on the hard next summer this will be worked on and I am thinking that I would like to replace/redo the electrical so that it is correct and I have no doubts about the wire being used and the connections. I already planned to run a new VHF wire up the mast to the masthead antenna and add an anchor light. This just expands some of that work but I feel it will be well worth the time and expense and should not have to be redone for quite some time after that. I have removed two of the six stanchions so that leaves four more and the bow pulpit and cockpit railing. These have to be re-bedded along with all other hardware to fix the leaks we have from the deck into the cabin and by taking them off now it allows me to cover Bigtooth with a tarp and not have to build a frame for it. Last year we had a lot of wind here and having a lower profile will work better.

Bigtooth on the transport trailer after being hulled out and pressure washed.

Bigtooth on the transport trailer heading to her home on stands at the boat yard.

Who knew to paint the prop with the same bottom paint as the hull? I do now.

The bottom paint seemed to do a fine job of keeping growth off the hull but it is now completely used up and will have to be sanded down and repainted before splashing again. I also had no idea that the prop should be painted as well and there is a lot of barnacles on it that will have to be cleaned. The deck and cockpit will have to have the gelcoat cracks fixed and the soft spots on the deck corrected. I might paint the deck and cockpit with Awlgrip and add new anti-skid as well. This all depends on the gelcoat cracks and how extensive the soft core is. If I can just drill holes and fill with epoxy or if I will have to remove large sections of the fiberglass skin to replace the core. Time will tell.

Lots of work to be done but looking forward to all of it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

That sad day that comes once a year.

Well, today was the annual day of sadness. We left our slip at the yacht club and Bigtooth had her mast un-stepped and put into storage. Bigtooth is now docked at the boat yard waiting to be hauled out for the winter and possibly all through next summer while we do extensive work on her. By extensive I mean fix the soft spots on her deck, replace the opening and fixed port lights and re-bed all the hardware. This will fix all the little leaks that Bigtooth has in these areas and allow me to start working on the interior and doing the woodworking that I have missed so much since the children were born. I would also like to rework all of the electrical that is questionable on her and add an anchor light on the top of the mast. I will be sure to take lots of pictures and be as descriptive as I can be during all of the work that I will be doing so that I might help other Watkins owners with their projects.

Amanda waiting on board after docking to have the waste holding tank pumped out before having the mast un-stepped.

Bigtooth with her mast off and waiting for the tide to lower a few inches so we can get under the fixed railroad bridge. The West River is really beautiful this time of year.

I scrubbed the infamous "low spot" on the sides of the cockpit that water and lots of dirt accumulated. The water that I rinsed it off with got onto my homemade winch covers and shed the water as planned. Sunbrella fabric is wonderful stuff.

In the short term I still have to winterize the engine, fresh water tank and head. Cover her up and bed her down for the cold winter ahead.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A sail with Dad

My Dad drove across country from Washington state to visit my brother and his family in North Carolina and then up to Connecticut to visit with me and my family. We were able to get out onto Long Island Sound for a nice afternoon sail on a simply beautiful day. This was the first time my Dad had been sailing in nearly 30 years and he seemed to really enjoy Bigtooth.

It was a rather uneventful day and the first hour we were out it seemed that the wind was everywhere we were not. The water seemed to ripple 50 yards away from us no matter how far we went out. We finally caught some wind and we were off sailing! Since we had no particular place to go we headed west on a close hauled course. Bigtooth felt good and I trimmed the sails, as well as her old sails can be, and we were moving between 3.9 and 4.4 knots according to my handy Marine Navigation app on my phone. After some time we headed north back to the yacht club and made good time but the sun was setting and I decided to start the motor and take in the sails.

It was a great day out and nice time spent with my Dad. Something that I don't get much of now that I live on the other side of the country from him.
Dad motoring us out from the yacht club. Note the lack of ripples on the water. There might have been about 1 knot of wind on our way out of port.

Dad at the helm under sail. We found about 6 knots of wind and started moving.

A perfect day out on Long Island Sound

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Winch covers

I finally got around to another canvas project for Bigtooth. This time it is a pair of winch covers and I followed the instructional video from Sailrite that you can find at the end of this post. If any of you are doing your own canvaswork for your boat then I would highly recommend checking out They have just about everything that you need to do your own DIY projects and the best price I can find for Sunbrella fabric. I hope to purchase one of their mainsail and genoa sail kits and build my own sails. That is still a few years off though as I am just learning how to work with marine grade canvas and sewing machines. I have the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 walking foot sewing machine and I must say that it is an impressive piece of machinery.

The fabric that I used for this project is Sunbrella Capi #6075 and V-92 thread in "wave blue" color to match. Amanda and I looked at every Sunbrella color that we could find and this was our favorite to use for all of the exterior canvaswork on Bigtooth. I had a new Lewmar #7 winch and took the measurements as described in the Sailrite video. I first tried cutting the Sunbrella with scissors and then using a lighter to seal the edges. This did not work very well and I managed to either not seal the edge or light the fabric on fire. Since I do not own a hotknife I put a new tip on my cheap 30 watt soldering iron and cut the pieces to size. While it was agonizingly slow cutting the fabric with the soldering iron it did create a perfectly sealed edge that will not unravel.

Here are all the cut pieces to construct two winch covers for our Watkins 27 - Bigtooth. The paper on the left is my sketch with the dimensions to cut all the parts to.

Now that all of the parts were cut I was able to start sewing. The hardest part I found was getting everything aligned for such a small winch cover. These winches are only 4 3/8" wide and 5" tall and Sunbrella fabric is very stiff. Combine that with my fat fingers and it means spending a lot of time with the stapler to keep things in place.

Here are the side pieces with the 1/2" hems sewn and the choker pieces with the 3/4" pockets sewn and 3/16" shock cord inserted.

Here is the Lewmar #7 winch and the two covers after I have sewn all the pieces together. The cover on the left still has the staples in it and the cover on the right has them removed. After all the staples are removed from both covers I snugged-up the shock cord and tacked them in place on the sewing machine.

Here are the completed covers that fit perfectly on the winch. Now I just need to get over to Bigtooth to install them.
I will be heading to the boat in the next few days to install these onto the winches and getting measurements for my next canvaswork project which is a set of pockets that will attach to the binnacle pedestal guard to hold my hand held VHF radio, horn, sun glasses, etc.

Until next time...happy sailing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

At least Jonny didn't fall in.

With Amanda working, the children at summer camp and me wanting to get out on the water I ask Jonny if he would like to go sailing with me. He says he would love to and we head out. We decide to pick a point on Long Island and head south past Faulkner's Island just to see how far across the Sound we can get. Unfortunately for us there is very little wind especially for a 7500 lbs. sailboat. We stay with it and Jonny stays at the helm for most of the southern leg of our trip. I show him how to tack and set the genoa and after we turn north to head home he gives it a try. Jonny puts the winch handle into the winch, pulls the sheet and then tries to wrap it around the winch. He almost had it until he lifted on the sheet just a little too much and the winch handle pops out and goes overboard. I grab Jonny just before he was going to dive in after it. I explain that he would never have caught up with the steel handle and it was easier to replace than he was. It was also a good thing that he did not dive in since just after that we were sailing through dozens of jellyfish. Rather large jellyfish.

It was still a good day out on the water and I will buy a new locking winch handle before the next trip.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day 2013

It's July 4, 2013 and we are going to watch the Madison fireworks while anchored in the Long Island Sound. This was Amanda's idea and it was a really great time. Although it was a VERY long day on the water for us (about eight hours) and our first time navigating at night. My sister-in-law and her son came along with us and we started sailing in the afternoon west to the Thimble Islands and then headed back east to Madison and anchored off of the Madison Surf Club. The fireworks barge was a few hundred yards away and we were one of only three sailboats anchored for the show. There were at least two dozen power boats anchored around us. This was my nephew's first time sailing and as you can see in the picture below he was loving it. We grilled some hot dogs before sunset and let the children nap until the fireworks started. It was amazing to lay down on Bigtooth and watch the fireworks overhead. I would love to make this a family tradition.

Jonny at the helm, sailing for the first time.

Sunset off the Madison coast.
My phone is not very good at taking pictures at night while the boat is rolling but you can get the idea of how close we were to the fireworks show.