September 9, 2012

How to build sailboat companionway doors.

Here I describe how to build collapsible sailboat companionway doors. About 4 years ago, I built these for my late model Newport 30 sailboat. It is now 2016 as I update this page, and I am happy to report, the doors are holding up well.
Alright, this is a piece of cake, nothing to it. I am not much of a carpenter, but I was able to piece this together for about 50$ and a few hours of mucking about with saws. Inspiration for this project came from Don Casey's classic book, This Old Boat.

sailboat companionway doors
My finished project: weather treated birch companionway doors

teak companionway doors
So, here are the pieces of the old door. They are withered, on their last legs. I went to Home Depot, and bought a 8 foot by 4 foot sheet of 1/4 inch weather resistant Birch plywood. This is about 40$. You can try other weather resistant woods (teak ext..)

You just pencil out the dimensions and get cracking with a circular line saw.

The individual pieces form complimentary trapeziums. Yes, I looked up that word. One side is parallel, the other is not. So, when you cut the shape from a sheet of wood, the remainder will be in the right dimension for the subsequent piece. This will all make sense when you trace out the panel shapes. It makes for an efficient use of your wood panel.


companionway boardscompanionway doors for sailboats
sailboat hatch doors


sailboat hatch boards

You just replicate the dimensions and angle of cut from the old set of doors. It is pretty intuitive. But you have to put in this staggered cut in each - so as to keep rain from entering through the cracks between each piece. So, I cut in half the depth of the Birch at about 1/2 inch in distance into each board. So each piece slide together like puzzle pieces. Check the arrows, the complimentary cuts.














Trim the height to get it just right. So the hatch slides over properly. You can power sand the bottom piece to get it right. Or re-cut if the correction is large.

Then give it a light sand and she's ready for wood finish.








teak cetol
Sikkens Cetol Marine Natural Teak 
















I know there are a lot of varnish aficionados out there- I am not one of them. I was advised to go with Sikkens Cetol Marine Natural Teak.
The prep work is minimal. I lay 3 heavy coats of this stuff down and I am good for 2-3 years. When its time to re-coat, it just requires a light sand, then apply the Cetol. There's no prep work in between coats, just re-apply when dry.

You want the Natural Teak version, not the original Cetol Marine. The Cetol Marine has an unappealing, orange tint. In response to the negative feedback about the orange hue, the folks at Sikkens toned down the orange in the Cetol Marine Natural Teak version. Most boaters prefer this over the original Cetol Marine.
(this Natural teak stuff looks good on teak companionway doors or most other types of wood)

The quart size featured in the photo above is about 47$ plus tax at West Marine.

Depending on your shipping options, you should be able to get it a bit cheaper from Amazon.



And here she is all finished - the new doors give a cool, two-tone effect of Birch with Teak trim on the door.





 If you are about to build companionway doors or are considering embarking on a similar type sailboat project, I also recommend you pick the classic, well-respected bible of old boat maintenance. Don Casey's 'This Old Boat'.




Update July 2016: 
I have just re-done all my external woodwork. I finally did it right and sanded down all my teak to bare wood. So, I've removed all the dark water stains. I wrote up a step by step on why I chose to use cetol instead of varnish to coat the external teak.

Update May 2016:
My dock mate just stopped by my boat to offer me some of his yellow fin tuna. He's been out fishing all day and caught some nice sized tuna off the La Jolla kelp beds. Well, apparently he'd had a few beers while waiting for the fish to bite, because he was hammered. He tripped on the throttle in my cockpit and fell hard into the companionway doors. The top two pieces snapped. Yep, not cool.
So, anyway - I did appreciate the tuna but now I am tasked with rebuilding my sailboat companionway doors. I may go with another wooden version. But I am temped to try a tinted plastic deal. Something that lets a little more light in the cabin. If you have any experience with tinted, plastic doors - please let me know in the comments section. Do they scratch easily?
To be continued...

August 15, 2012

Sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island: distance and time (Mission Bay, Oceanside, Dana Point, Avalon, Two Harbors)

Are you considering sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island? Here, I provide the distance and travel time for sailing to Catalina from San Diego (Mission Bay, Oceanside or Dana Point) to Catalina Island (Avalon or Two Harbors).


sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island
Sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island

This is a great sailing trip. You can bang it out in a week. And in doing so, you will have covered a lot of the waters around Southern California. Plus, once you get to Catalina - there's lots of bays and bights between Avalon and Two Harbors where you can drop the anchor, go fishing or spend the night.

I thought it might be helpful for other sailors to have all this travel info. in one place.

Sailing from San Diego to Catalina

Distance in nautical miles:               (1 nm = 1.15 land miles)

Mission Bay to Oceanside:      27
Oceanside to Dana Point:        22
Dana Point to Avalon:             33
Dana Point to Two Harbors:    38
Mission Bay to Avalon:           63
Mission Bay to Two Harbors:  76
Oceanside to Avalon:               45


I plotted out these distances based on a direct route, and took an approximate start point for each distance at the outside of each harbor. Each sailor will experience a slightly different distance, depending on their mooring location and line of sail, but consider these good approximations. If you are starting your journey from San Diego Bay instead of Mission Bay, then add 6 nautical miles onto the distance.

It is worth noting that the marina locations I have included in the map, are the only marinas you will encounter while sailing San Diego to Catalina Island.

We made the round trip in a 30 foot sailboat (1976 Newport), staying a night or two at each harbor.

There were certainly glorious moments when we were holding 7-8 knots under sail. However, considering the range of conditions we experienced (current, swells, headwind), let's say - our average speed for this trip was 4.7 knots. Yeah, a bit humbling, this is about the speed of a brisk walk.

At that average speed, the approximate time it would take us to get from A to B was:

Time needed for each leg (if averaging 4.7 knots)


                                               Hours (in decimal)

Mission Bay to Oceanside:        5.7
Oceanside to Dana Point:          4.7
Dana Point to Avalon:               7
Dana Point to Two Harbors:      8
Mission Bay to Avalon:           13.4
Mission Bay to Two Harbors:  16.1
Oceanside to Avalon:                9.6

         If you're in a 30 foot sailboat, or something resembling that - these times should be a decent estimate, whether under sail or engine. Of course, sailors rarely use a completely direct path from one point to another - and so, it would be wise to plan for 1-2 hours on top of these estimates.

sailing to Catalina from San Diego
Best part of the trip: sailing into Avalon



Sailing to Catalina from San Diego

Before you go, you need at least one cruising guide on board. Fagan's book is the standard for local cruisers. It has kept me out of trouble many times. There is a great section on sailing San Diego waters and sailing between anchorages in Catalina and the other Channel Islands.






And... if you're thinking in broader strokes than just southern California, Coast Pilot 7, edition 2016 (NOAA) is the gold standard in navigation books for the entire west coast. This will get you from Mexico to Canada and all points in between...including the big jump out to Hawaii.






Alright  -

Sail on Sailor.

Additionally, I've posted similar nautical information for other sailing regions, follow links below:

Sailing to Catalina Island: distance and time from Los Angeles. This LA boating link provides simple and easy to read distance data for the routes between the popular Los Angeles harbors and the harbors on Catalina Island.

Sailing from San Diego to Los Angeles: nautical miles and time required for a sailboat trip (Mission Bay, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Huntington Harbor, Los Angeles Harbor, Marina del Rey).

Sailing distance (nautical miles) and time for a sailboat trip from San Diego to Santa Cruz Island (Mission Bay, Smuggler's Cove, Avalon, Two Harbors).

If you are a boater in the Seattle or Puget Sound area in the state of Washington, then I recommend you refer to this Seattle boating link. Similar to this page, the Seattle boating link provides all the boating distances between Seattle (Ballard Locks/Shilshole marina) and all the common harbors and marinas in between South Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.

Incidentally, if you are planning a trip out to Catalina, it's good to know about Buccaneer's Weekend. You may or may not want to arrive on the island this weekend. It really depends on how you feel about tons of people getting drunk and dressed up as pirates. If you're in the right head space it could be a blast.

Buccaneer's weekend happens in the first weekend of October every year. And it happens at Two Harbors, not at Avalon. If you're a fan of pirate ships and the swashbuckling lifestyle, then prepare to have the greatest weekend of your life. The Harbor Reef bar will be converted to a pirate's den. There will be DJs, there will be dancing, there will be rum
The Santa Catalina Island Company is hosting the 26th annual Bucc Days October 1 to 4, 2015 at Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island, California. Attendees are invited to don their best pirate costume and set sail for a weekend of great food, cold drinks, live music, a treasure hunt, costume contest and much more. One cover charge provides access to four days of swashbuckling fun.  
This year’s event will feature more entertainment than ever before with  live bands on all four days and DJs spinning hits late into the night. The Pirate Village will encompass the Harbor Reef Restaurant deck and the plaza below, with multiple satellite bars, treasure hunts and costume contests to provide fun for everyone.
- See more at: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/event/buccaneers-weekend-2015#sthash.LCK3xuFe.dpuf
The Santa Catalina Island Company is hosting the 26th annual Bucc Days October 1 to 4, 2015 at Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island, California. Attendees are invited to don their best pirate costume and set sail for a weekend of great food, cold drinks, live music, a treasure hunt, costume contest and much more. One cover charge provides access to four days of swashbuckling fun.  
This year’s event will feature more entertainment than ever before with  live bands on all four days and DJs spinning hits late into the night. The Pirate Village will encompass the Harbor Reef Restaurant deck and the plaza below, with multiple satellite bars, treasure hunts and costume contests to provide fun for everyone.
- See more at: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/event/buccaneers-weekend-2015#sthash.LCK3xuFe.dpuf
The Santa Catalina Island Company is hosting the 26th annual Bucc Days October 1 to 4, 2015 at Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island, California. Attendees are invited to don their best pirate costume and set sail for a weekend of great food, cold drinks, live music, a treasure hunt, costume contest and much more. One cover charge provides access to four days of swashbuckling fun.  
This year’s event will feature more entertainment than ever before with  live bands on all four days and DJs spinning hits late into the night. The Pirate Village will encompass the Harbor Reef Restaurant deck and the plaza below, with multiple satellite bars, treasure hunts and costume contests to provide fun for everyone.
- See more at: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/event/buccaneers-weekend-2015#sthash.LCK3xuFe.dpuf

August 13, 2012

Sail journey from San Diego to Catalina Island


In the blink of an eye, 2 years have passed since the last entry in the Captain's log.

After returning from the Alaskan adventure, the boat and myself have since relocated to Southern California. We've traded in the Puget Sound of Seattle for the Mission Bay of San Diego, California. The Puget Sound was very British, while the Mission Bay is very Spanish. 

There aren't too many decent anchorages down here, but we do have Catalina Island. 




The Alize' steering herself up the Eastern coastline of Catalina Island. Most of the island is run by the Catalina Island Conservancy, which has done an admirable job of keeping the place wild and largely undeveloped.


Here you can see my rudimentary auto-helm at work. My auto tiller tacks past the iconic Catalina Casino. If you are considering installing a proper windvane steering system on your boat, consider WindPilot. Here are a few articles that share the story of WindPilot windvanes.


Mariana and her dog, Lou, perched above Avalon Harbor on the Southern tip of Catalina Island. The Alize' is moored just to the right of Mariana's head.


What should have been a relatively easy 15 hour crossing from San Diego to Avalon (63 nautical miles), turned into a challenging 3 day approach. While waiting for a 6-8 foot groundswell to subside, we crept slowly North via overnight stays at Oceanside Harbor and then Dana Point. When the winds subsided and the Sea finally laid down flat, we punched over from Dana to Avalon (33 nautical miles) in the dark of night.


Lou proved himself very Sea-worthy. When the conditions get too rough for him, he quietly vomits in a corner. He doesn't make a big deal about it either. He just takes care of his business and moves on.
Very stoic.




The dog is real, but the cat is a fake.


I hand speared this California halibut at 15 feet of depth inside Toyon Bay. Toyon is about 4 or 5 bays North of Avalon on the leeward side of Catalina. There's not much protection from ocean swell, but in settled weather, you can drop the anchor here and get a decent night's sleep.
 

Photo credit: Matt Healy

        Looking East back to the mainland. Los Angeles sits just out of sight on the horizon line, 40 miles away. 

    If you're planning a similar boating trip to Catalina, make sure you have at least one cruising guide on board. Fagan's book is the standard, authoritative guide for boating throughout Central and Southern CA. They have a nice section on Catalina Island. It will keep your boat off the rocks and in safe harbor.







For boaters that are thinking about making this journey in their boat...I've posted some good distance and travel time info. for San Diego to Catalina

Sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island: distance and time for a sailboat trip (Mission Bay, Oceanside, Dana Point, Avalon, Two Harbors)

and also boating info for making the LA to Catalina journey...

Sailing to Catalina Island: distance and time from Los Angeles