No. 74 - September 1987


by John Charters

If you are going to drill a hole in your Fiberglas and through the gelcoat, it is important to enlarge or counter sink the gelcoat before screwing on a fitting. Not so important if you are installing nuts and bolts, but essential when using any type of screw. Why? To avoid getting those ugly stress cracks, that's why! If you drill the hole the right size for the screw you are using, it will be smaller than the overall diameter of the screw. Gelcoat being a very hard and brittle substance, does not "give" as does wood or Fiberglas and if stressed by having a screw forced through it will, more often than not, crack.


By the way, you should never use wood screws In Fiberglas.  The threads are too fine, generally only extend for half of the screw length and therefore will not provide the proper holding strength. Use the proper screws, those that have full length coarse threads, similar to self-tapping sheet metal screws.


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by Bill Murdock

Last year on a trip to the Chesapeake Bay, part of the garbage stored under the sink migrated into the space outboard of the ice box. While fishing the smelly mess out two weeks later, I saw what a huge amount of wasted space there is back there. To use that space and give me a place to keep my lunch, I built this bread box and cookie jar.

Because I am not much of a carpenter the box itself is a white plastic Rubbermaid trash can that happens to fit perfectly. The sliding door was cut from the 1/8" plywood bottom of a $10.00 teak tray from WalMart. The grooved rails and trim were made from Goldberg's 1/2" teak.

To start, I removed the ice box to get access to the space behind it. The trash can was prepared by cutting off its top flange and by pop riveting three pieces of Light aluminum trim angle to its top. The 10" x 8" hole was cut in the cabinet side and the trash can was attached to the bottom of the counter surface with three short round head wood screws. The aluminum angle was then pop riveted to the inside of the cabinet side. The two grooved rails and pieces of trim were made and was glued to one edge of it. Sanding and oiling the teak and reinstalling the ice box finished the job.

This makes the ideal lunch box or picnic basket keeping the food dry and out of the way. Plates and bowls also are fairly safe in the soft plastic box.



by J/24 Champion, Scott Ferquson

The 1987 Volvo Newport Regatta was one of those light-air regattas that are few and far between in Newport, where we like to boast of dependable 15 knot sea breezes every day. Aboard the fine yacht PMS, we managed to emerge unscathed in only three races of the three day series. The light-air lessons learned years before on Baseline Lake [home of the University of Michigan sailing team] and the '87 J/24 Midwinters, sailed in Miami in a steady eight to ten, came in handy and helped us come out on top in the Volvo. I'd like to share a few of the little things that made a big difference for us in these conditions.

Know where the line is and never get stuck below the fleet before the start. There is nothing worse than getting stuck below a group of boats before a light-air start with nowhere to go and no way to get there. The boat is rocking back and forth, ­the Windex is spinning. It often seems in big fleet starts you spend so much time watching where you're going and avoiding other boats that you lose track of the big picture. Getting stuck in the middle of or below a big bunch of boats can cause you to literally lose sight of just about everything - the marks, the line, the wind strength and direction. Setting up above or on the line in the last two to three minutes gives you much more breathing room while also letting you see both ends of the line and the new breeze to windward. You'll also have clean air to keep up good boat speed so you can dive into holes if need be.

Settle down and concentrate early - take a deep breath and relax. It's important to be sure you're comfortable with the sail settings before the start so when the gun goes off, you're not messing around with anything but settling into the groove. If you feel you're not moving well, crack off the sheets a half inch and settle down again - oversheeting is usually the problem.


Let the sails breathe - Buddy Melges calls this "ventilating".  On PMS we set the jib six to eight inches off the spreader and set the top batten on the main slightly to leeward of parallel to the boom and never let the windward telltales flutter.  We always have someone trimming the jib. If we get lifted quickly, the jib trimmer eases to the lift and informs me.  We then slowly inch up onto the new course while the jib is brought back in.  This helps the boat accelerate forward instead of being stopped by a quick turn of the rudder.  Easing the jib works after quick headers as well, since the boat usually slows down as a result of the jib backing and the helmsman turning the rudder.  The sail has to be eased to get the boat moving again.

Keep it "heated up." Dead downwind legs in light air are always interesting. We had three two-mile downwind legs like this in the Volvo Regatta and because the gybing angles were so high, they presented big opportunities for gains and losses [especially in a tight 78-boat fleet!]. One of the biggest mistakes we saw people making in the light conditions was generally sailing too low a course.  In light air, this is as deadly as pinching when you're sailing upwind. On our boat the spinnaker trimmer basically drives the boat by dictating sailing angles based on the pull of the sheet. If he loses any tug, we "heat it up" by two or three degrees until the tug returns. Along the same lines, if we get a small puff, he is the first to head down a few clicks. This proves to be a very fast technique in the light stuff but requires a sensitive hand. Another important tool to have while the helmsman and trimmer are concentrating on boat speed is a good set of eyes glued on the fleet behind searching for potential puffs and wind shadows from other boats.

We have a saying which originated with crew member Mike Esposito that brings a smile to my face whenever I think of it. Out of the blue, when things were looking pretty bleak he used to slam his fist on the deck and yell ferociously at the top of his lungs. "NEVER! NEVER LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR!!!".