October 29, 2015

If you're thinking about entering into the world of charter boats...

If you are curious about buying a used charter boat or renting out your boat as a charter or any other scenario regarding charter boats, Sailonline.com is a great resource to learn about the details of this industry.

October 16, 2015

Replacing a broken gooseneck on my sailboat mast

Well, it finally happened - the cast aluminum gooseneck connection holding my mast to the boom crumbled. My boat is a 1976 Newport 30 MkII, so that means this old goose neck was cast at least 39 years ago. I suppose I should be happy it has lasted this long.

Here's a shot of us coming back to port after the gooseneck busted.

returning to port after my gooseneck busted

You can tell by the next image that the metal has a grainy, deteriorated look to it. The fixed loops jutting out of the goose neck are supposed to hold a nice fat clevis pin.

busted goose neck no longer holding a clevis pin

And as you can see, the pressure on the rings was finally too much and they opened up and the boom dropped.

Up till this point, I was okay with the minor carnage. Things break all the time on my boat - maybe once a month something goes. It's just a matter of wrapping your head around the project and fixing it.

The real challenge (time-sink) to this project was the removal of the busted gooseneck. As you can see, the goosneck is bolted onto the aluminum mast by 5 large stainless steel bolts. Well, 39 years of ocean living, had oxidized and melded these two metals together. Plus, these bolts had phillips heads. This means they strip easily. So, these bolts were not coming off.

Every few days for about 3 weeks, I soaked the bolts in WD-40 and Knock 'em loose and all other sorts of industrial rust solvents and then wrenched on the bolts with a large screwdriver and a lot of leverage. But, they still weren't budging.

stainless bolts oxidized to the aluminum mast, not budging

Finally, I borrowed my friends Propane torch and that's when things got interesting.

I heated up the bolts so as to shake off some corrosion and free them from the mast. I'm not sure if that did anything...but - what did happen is that the gooseneck started to turn soft.

The heat from the torch on the old cast aluminum made the gooseneck very pliable - to the point where I could break off pieces with a screwdriver.

So that's what I did, I snapped off the corners that held the bolts in place.

after heating with a torch, I could break off pieces of cast aluminum

This basically solved the problem, once I could break apart the goosneck and separate it from the mast, then I was left with 4 exposed bolts stuck in a mast. Therefore, I had a nice half inch section of bolt exposed, which I could wrench out with visegrips.

So - that problem was solved, now I just needed to find a new gooseneck for an old Newport sailboat.

I asked around on the Newport Facebook group and was told it would be worth my time to drive up to Newport Beach and visit Minney's Yacht Surplus. Makes sense I suppose, if you need something for a Newport sailboat, drive up to Newport.

Well, anyway, that was good advice - after 5 minutes in the shop, my girlfriend found 2 exact replacements. And, each one was 7 bucks. That's the best news of all...

We drove back down to San Diego - installed the new gooseneck, re-attached the boom and went out for an afternoon sail.

That's it - just a happy ending to a boat repair story...

For more detailed instructions on how to repair or add features to your mast, the Stingy Sailor has a series of articles on DIY mast projects. Here's one to help you replace sheaves at the top of your mast.

my new gooseneck holding the boom to the mast

October 6, 2015

Want to charter a boat to the Channel Islands?

The summer is over in Southern California, but that doesn't mean the sailing season is over. Winter is when we get our best winds, plus the crowds drop to next to nothing out at the Channel Islands. You need to be prudent when finding your weather window, because there is the occasional storm - but if you want to cross the channel and have the islands to yourself - this is the time to go.

taking down the main sail near Smugglers Cove, Santa Cruz Island

If you've already been to Catalina and want to visit less visited, and more rugged of the Channel Islands - then you're going to want to visit Anacapa and Santa Cruz. The closest marina to these islands is the Channel Island Marina in Oxnard.

In theory - you've got your own boat and you can make the crossing to Catalina or Santa Cruz Island as soon as you get some time off of work. But, in practice - most people that want to spend some time sailing around the Channel Islands, don't own their own boat. Fortunately - there are a few good charter companies that take folks out on nice sized sailboats.

Captain Dan has been taking folks out around these islands for quite some time. He runs a great operation, Sail Channel Islands, out of Channel Islands Marina. Checkout the site, you can book a day trip or overnight - on a chartered sailboat with a seasoned captain at the helm.

Plus, if you want to get married at sea, Chaplain/Captain Dan has got that covered as well.