Swingin' on a Star

Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".

01 April 2010 | Palau
13 July 2009 | Palau
05 July 2009 | Yacht Harbor
03 July 2009 | Peleliu
02 July 2009 | Palau
01 July 2009 | Two Dog Beach
30 June 2009 | Mecharchar
29 June 2009 | Mecharchar
28 June 2009 | Ulong
27 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
17 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
16 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
15 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
14 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
13 June 2009 | Ngerutable
25 May 2009 | Yacht Harbor
30 April 2009 | Malakal
29 April 2009 | Koror
28 April 2009 | Malakal
27 April 2009 | Malakal

Rope Clutches

20 January 2008 | The Lagoon
Normally on Sunday in the islands nothing constructive takes place unless you do it yourself. In fact you could say that about Saturday as well. Today, however, Brent and Ian showed up at about 9AM ready to get to work. I was so glad to have two very experienced and skilled guys, also with great attitudes and a "get it done on time" demeanor working on our boat. I am also a picky bastard and like everything done to exacting specifications. Not only did Brent make sure that everything was completed the way I wanted it he was happy to work with me and even teach me along the way.

Ian spent most of the day grinding in the bowels of the boat while Brent and I sorted out the Lewmar rope clutch install. To do the rope clutch install we had two challenges. One was making sure that the clutches were lined up properly to minimize side loading on the lines leading to the winches and the deck organizers (which had not yet been installed). The other challenge was that we had almost no existing access to the back of the rope clutch pad.

Hideko and I like to keep the boat looking clean inside and out and we try not to do things that tear up the interior. The port clutch pad is above the microwave and a finished part of the interior ceiling. It has an access hole from inside the microwave cabinet about the size of three fingers. The starboard clutch pad is above the starboard winch box and a finished part of the interior ceiling. This one has an access port about the size of one finger inside the winch motor box.

After a lot of deliberation we could find no way to avoid cutting a hole in the ceiling on the starboard side to get at the nuts and washers on the back of the pads. We cut a fine line with a Makita Sawsall and saved the plug so that we could reinstall it with some epoxy after the install. On the port side we cut out some of the ceiling inside the cabinet and this seemed to make a large enough opening. The interior ceiling is a one sided foam sheet about a half inch thick with a thin layer of painted fiberglass on one side.

Once we could get a small socket into the area under the pads we unbolted the existing main sheet clutches. The existing clutches are sized for 12-14mm. Our new triple clutches are 10-12mm. Our existing reef lines and jib sheets are 14mm but our main sheet is 12mm (presumably because it is double ended). The reef lines that we're installing for reef one and two are 12mm Dyneema (which is stronger than the 14mm single braid). Since we are leaving the jib clutch in place we decided to purchase 10-12mm clutches for the new runs. The rope clutches tend to work best and do the least damage to the largest ropes that can take.

It took a little muscle to get the old clutches off of the pads due to the calk still holding them down. We checked the alignment of the triple clutch and the old single in various positions that made use of the existing holes but none worked out just perfect. Once resigned to drilling all new holes we taped the bottom of the old screw holes and filled them in with West System epoxy and 404 high density filler.

To quote the West System web site: "404 High-Density filler is a thickening additive developed for maximum physical properties in hardware bonding where high-cyclic loads are anticipated. It can also be used for filleting and gap filling where maximum strength is necessary." This stuff turned out to be very handy on several projects.

I have had several people try to talk me into doing repairs with polyester resin. It is cheaper and easier to work with. The problem is that it has poor secondary bonding characteristics. Laying polyester over uncured polyester works well because in the end it forms a single bonded piece. However laying polyester over cured polyester creates two layers of polyester stuck together, and often not stuck together all that well. Epoxy on the other hand has very good secondary bonding characteristics. It is harder to work with but if you choose the right hardener and work in reasonable weather it can be producing a far superior finished product, creating a strong bond with existing polyester or epoxy laminates.

Lining up the rope clutches was an exercise in compromise. The triple clutches force all three captive lines to take a parallel course. The positioning of the deck organizer pretty much requires the fourth clutch to be installed parallel to the triple. When installing clutches you want to try to minimize the side strain on any line that will be heavily loaded. On the starboard side we have the main halyard on the far right and the main sheet on the far left. There's no way to run both straight back to the winch. In this case we compromised by balancing the runs a bit but favoring the main sheet which is much more likely to be on the winch for long periods. On the port side we have the topping lift on the outside and the main sheet all the way to the right. That made the port side a bit easier as we focused on a fair run for the main sheet.

Once we had things lined up we marked the holes needed and drilled them. We caulked the clutches and the holes with 5200 making sure that there was a 360 degree seal around the clutch bases and the bolt holes. Getting the washers and nuts on the backs of some of the bolts was very tricky, requiring a fair amount of scraped knuckles and hand contortions.

When we finished and stepped back to admire our work I noticed something odd. We had been working hard to get the job done before night fall. It rains almost every night this time of year and I prefer not to have holes in the boat during precipitation. When we finally set the port clutch in to be mounted we set it in place backwards! Another project for tomorrow...
Vessel Name: Swingin on a Star
Vessel Make/Model: Saint Francis 50
Hailing Port: Las Vegas, NV
Crew: Randy & Hideko Abernethy
About: Randy, Hideko and Roq
Home Page: http://swinginonastar.com
Swingin on a Star's Photos - Swingin on a Star (Main)
Selected photos of Swingin' on a Star at anchor.
7 Photos
Created 18 September 2007
31 Photos
Created 15 September 2007
copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Randy & Hideko Abernethy, all rights reserved