Amelia’s article, Sail Care, Interview with an Expert, appears in the April issue of SpinSheet magazine. Grant worked as a sail inspector for two years at Bacon Sails and Marine Supplies in Annapolis, MD. Here are some of his tips on Sail Care!!
And, read our blog post on designing Albin Vega Velocir‘s Sail Design.
Interested in what we’ve been up to? Stay tuned next week for an exciting update, it’ll be something a little different…
Amelia’s article, Co-Captaining – Can It Be Done?, appears in the April issue of SpinSheet magazine. We co-captain Velocir, which is probably not typical of most boating couples. Happy to say it worked very well for us during our entire voyage– below is the article giving more insight.
Let’s go back in time, to when Velocir was completely stripped down to a bare hull. Yes, that glorious moment when the interior was saying “paint me, I have no wood in me and am already a filthy dust pile!” But no one heard the calls.
Fast forward to cruising Velocir and the paint is porous, crumbly and very susceptible to mold. If only we had realized!! Of course, that would have made things easy….
There are two reasons why the interior desperately needs to be painted—mold and flaking paint. Why is this happening—this is caused mostly by A) porous old paint on a bumpy fiberglass surface B) a gel-coat like filler was used along the outer 1-2 inches of the hull right where the deck meets the hull. This filler has flex cracks, or in some cases just crumbly texture, causing a mold habitat. As the cracks held moisture the paint started to flake and fall off. The paint is not adhering to the filler at all anymore.
To solve this problem Amelia is going to tackle this pain of a project. It is a pain because A) you have to be a gymnast to work upside down in these cramped conditions B) it is messy, mess everywhere all over our home C) the wood paneling limits access to the far reaches of some areas and gives little to no clearance to paint between wood bulkheads and the fiberglass. It is a delicate process to do the job well, without focusing on all the imperfections that will inevitably happen.
Beginning with the nice vision of a fresh, bright and clean Velocir in mind, Amelia first took out any hardware that needed to be removed for sanding and duct taped a plastic sheet to keep dust out of the main cabin. Then, using a rotary sander with 80 grit and a little “mouse” sander with 120 grit, she sanded the surfaces thoroughly. Around the edges of the hull where the paint was flaking, she used a chisel, and then hand sanded the surface.
About halfway into the project Amelia started to regret the undertaking. Dust everywhere, sanding in corners, upside down, around windows and other obstacles. Her arms started to feel weak from pushing the sander against the hull. What a mess the boat was! But it was too late to turn back now.
The interior was now sanded and smooth, but very dusty. Amelia used a shop vac to get most of the grime off every surface. Then, she used diluted bleach water and wiped down every surface. Some mold still hid in sanded areas, so this really cleaned things up!
The duct taped plastic shield worked great! It didn’t stick to the varnished wood or leave any residue.
On outer edges of the hull, an epoxy-like filler was used. This is where the flex cracks happened. Using a dremel, Amelia gouged out the cracks until they were smooth. There were also crumbly areas that were cleaned out. Most cracks were superficial, but two (by the water tank input, and by the starboard lifeline stanchion) were 1/8” deep.
To fill these cracks we needed something that a latex based paint would adhere to. It also could not be too rigid or else it would crack again. Our solution was g-flex, a flexible epoxy that we used to repair our inflatable dinghy’s oar locks in the Bahamas with great success. It is easy to mix the 1:1 solution and apply. The application was very simple because it did not want to move around, even when applying upside down. At times (probably because it was so cold) it got stringy but was manageable.
Once the epoxy cures it will be sanded, wiped down with acetone and the entire forward interior will be ready to paint. First we will use a primer, then glossy paint. Hopefully the weather will warm up for that project soon!
Before leaving on our trip to the Bahamas in 2011, we installed new solar vents on Velocir. We had seen many older solar vents in boat yards still going strong after many years and much neglect.
The original installation required us to enlarge pre-existing 3 inch vents holes to 4 inches. We epoxied the cored deck so that it would be water tight, and installed the vent. It was great except that in heavy weather (crashing waves and spray) it would leak a bit., otherwise we love them! This summer our starboard vent stopped working, so we replaced it:
After taking the old vent out we waited a few weeks for a new one (free under warranty) to come in the mail. Then, Amelia installed it by lightly chiseling off the old foam ring and Dolfinite sealing compound. Mineral Spirits and kerosene also work really well at getting Dolfinite off.
There are three main pieces to install. The base (top right), the white ring is the interior trim piece, the foam ring is part of the waterproof bedding on deck, and then the cover piece with the solar panel and motor. Since we already had holes drilled it was super easy to install. (Note: Before drilling holes, make sure your vents have solar panels aesthetically going the way you like.)
We put fresh bedding compound, Dolfinite, down before installing the base. Contrary to what you might assume, Amelia doesn’t just use Dolfinite because there is a cute dolphin on the label. The other advantages are that with age, the bedding compound is still easy to remove and reapply. It doesn’t easily dry out under basic storage methods. (It is messy to apply though, comically so, like peanut butter).
The base fit right in. The white part of the base slides up and down, allowing air in/out or cutting it off. There is also a handy bug screen.
And, Viola! A beautiful new and working solar vent. Aren’t warranties great?
P.S. They are very quiet. Every once in a while one will start to make a ticking sound, so we restart and silence again : )
We are excited to announce that we have finally fully committed to sailing the Great Lakes on Velocir this summer.
We were unsure throughout the winter, trying to find long-term work, but that didn’t pan out so we are back and focused on cruising and Velocir.
This past winter was well spent enjoying the comforts of a home and raising a delightful dog. We really couldn’t be happier with Crew, he’s just the sweetest little guy. But despite our best efforts, he doesn’t like water—yet. So it should be an interesting summer for him!
We plan to depart in late April / early May and head through various canals for Georgian Bay and the North Channel. Most likely (unless we win the lottery) this will be the last hurrah of cruising for us, so we plan to just have a nice time and enjoy it!
Before Motu Iti, Amelia’s parents had cruised and sailed two other bigger 40 foot sailboats. One cruise was to the Bahamas for a year with a young family, the others summer cruises as a couple and with a young family.
They chose Motu Iti because her smaller size makes her easier to handle and take care of. Here is a video discussing the best aspects of downsizing to a smaller sailboat!! And, see Motu Iti’s blog on the topic here.
The Nature’s Head Composting Toilet has been a great solution to rid ourselves of stinky holding tanks, repairing valves and finding pump-outs. Even better, being ecologically friendly on the boat has become effortless for us.
In Georgetown, Bahamas, the pump-out boat went through Elizabeth Harbor every morning, $5 for a pump out. We thought, I hope he doesn’t notice we don’t need one, because we have the Nature’s Head. The pump-out guy would get angry on the VHF radio when he wasn’t getting a lot of business, saying outrageous things like “you cruiser’s must like to swim in your own discharge” and various such proclamations. We thought, how rude, I hope he realizes people have composting heads now and are considerate to others.
Then, we were blown away when we met two other cruising boats openly proud of their complete disregard for proper discharge, in a crowded cruiser’s harbor too! Like it was an inside joke they were letting us in on and they were such rebels.
But really it was disgusting and inconsiderate, and there is no excuse, none, especially with a Nature’s Head. Part of the reason we love to cruise is to be outside and enjoy nature, so even if it’s just something small like our discharge, we take pride in doing what we can to protect the sea!
Here’s a video from Motu Iti about using a Nature’s Head:
It can take a lot of creativity and hard work to make the interior space of a boat warm and inviting. Aboard Motu Iti, Nancy shows what she did to make the boat feel like home:
Sometimes we wonder why so many people, us included, live in places that are so dreary and cold a good chunk of the year. We are reminded of this every time we use Grant’s birthday as an excuse to visit a tropical locale. Three years running. Last year was on Velocir in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera.
We made a delicious turtle cake, making do with whatever baking pans were available.
For dinner, we skipped the sunset cruiser’s raft-up to enjoy some fine dining. We watched the sunset and the moonrise about 30 minutes apart.
Besides birthday celebrations, we’ve been reading, knitting, snorkeling and walking the beach. Relaxing in the Caribbean!
We stopped our lazy ways and got to work, taking Motu Iti out for a sail! The forecast was 10-15 kts with light chop. Sailing the Sea of Abaco, Motu Iti did a fine job gliding through the water, not wanting to heel too much even with some puffs.
At the end of our sail, Amelia got in the dinghy and anchored it, while Motu Iti sailed back and forth to get some great photos.
It’s hard to have good sailing pictures of your boat when you’re always on it!
Here’s some fun video of the sail:
We awoke at 0230 to drive to the airport. Three inches of snow on the ground…..great. We drove with one highway lane cleared and little salt on the road. We were almost to the airport parking lot when we slid sideways to a stop inches in front of a pole. Luckily, it was all very slow motion because we were not driving fast. Definitely the right time to get out of Annapolis, leaving Velocir in the snow, and head for the Bahamas to visit Amelia’s parents on their cruising sailboat, Motu Iti. (www.sailmotuiti.com)
Goldwin and Nancy have been relaxing in the Abacos this last month, and we are very happy to join them. Our first day was a bit breezy, but we headed over to a favorite of ours, Tahiti Beach, for some low tide nature viewing. The beach is a long sand bar that appears at low tide. The area is full of starfish, sand dollars, juvenile conch and other creatures.
Even though we have explored these waters before we always find something new, like this green starfish.
A rare sighting, this juvenile conch came out of its shell for us (trying to turn over).
The eyes always get us, they are oddly adorable making them extremely hard to turn into a meal. Luckily this one is not legally large enough to eat.
We zoomed around to a few good snorkeling spots. When Grant goes spearfishing he uses a pole spear with an elastic loop at the end (making it a homemade Hawaiian sling), dive weights to help him get down to look under crevices, a knife for safety and gloves to protect his hands from sharp lobster etc.
He found a spiny lobster in a grassy bank offshore, and speared it for dinner.
We also speared a few Lion Fish, an invasive species with no natural predators and dangerous spines. It is very much encouraged to spear them.
To finish our great day, Amelia made some conch fritters out of fresh-caught conch and a local batter Nancy had gotten.