Category Archives: Life

While the Cat’s Away

I did remember to call my Mom back in Manitoba today before heading out into the sunshine.

It’s the first really warm weekend of spring here in the Lower Mainland, so I managed to convince EB to join me for a Mothers’ Day sail.

We had a pretty lively sail in the Southern Strait – the wind was just perfect for Madsu under 100% jib and full main.  We scooted along at 5.5 knots plus going to weather – and I actually had to get my sweater on – the wind off the water was a tiny bit cool.

But I had an motive for getting EB out of the house.  While were were gone, the boys fired up the Kitchen Aid to create an original masterpiece.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all you cool cats.

Sizzling September

It’s been a weird summer in the Lower Mainland.

But forget all that.  September is smokin’.

Record high temperatures, and sun sun sun.

EB and I finally managed to get away for a few hours on the boat this afternoon. Most of the homeward bound sailboats were motoring up the Sound back to Vancouver, but we had a leisurely sail in the light southerly coming in from the Straight.

Howe Sound in all its glory.


December is for Shoveling

20091220_yard_8640Most of last weekend was spent shoveling.


Saturday was one of those magic “December on the Coast” kind of days.

It was sunny with the temperature around 12 degrees C.

Perfect for shoveling a big pile of manure, and converting some lawn into edible garden.

Details on my garden’s website –


If you’re wondering why my garden has its own website…it was jealous of the sailboat’s website, so now it has its own.

Things You Figured Were True, Are.


Sometimes a news story just jumps out at you as being so obvious that it’s hard to believe someone’s actually doing a story about it.

Two today from CBC.CA.

First story. It’s only surprising it’s taken this long for someone to turn up evidence that big tobacco knew ages ago that cigs are bad for you…

Imperial Tobacco Canada destroyed up to 60 early studies that linked cigarettes to addiction and carcinogens, according to a review published Wednesday in the online Canadian Medical Association Journal. (full story here)

Perhaps not surprisingly, Imperial Tobacco makes no mention of this on their web site, but proudly proclaims this:

We’re an international tobacco company focused on creating value for our shareholders.

Imperial Tobacco products are available in over 160 countries worldwide. Our geographic diversity and versatile multi-product portfolio provides business resilience and a strong platform for future growth.

Future growth !  Shareholder value !

Well guess what ?  All the future growth and shareholder value is based on a product that will kill you.

My sister, a 2 pack a day smoker, died of lung cancer in her early 40’s.  I was with her when she died.

Not a lot of future growth there, fellas.

Second story.

It’s surprising someone gave university researchers a $150,000 car to do this study, proving that fast cars and testosterone are linked.

Well, duh.

Researchers at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal took 39 willing young men and let them take a cruise in a $150,000 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.

The men were then asked to drive a 16-year-old Toyota Camry. (full story here)

According to the lead researcher, “just put a guy in a Porsche, and his testosterone levels shoot up”.

Well, duh again.

But hang on here.

Every time I get in our Toyota Yaris, I most definitely have a little testosterone thing going on.  Fully loaded, the Yaris clocks in at under 20-grand and even used to get a gas-miser rebate from the feds.

Maybe the John Molson School of Business should come out here and do a little study on us West Coast Men.


Newlyweds and Dill Pickles

20090917_dill_424The Lower Mainland called in the big guns today – Sunshine.

After yesterday’s winter-like-but-not-yet-winter-rain-here-to-remind-you-what’s-coming rain, it was sensational to soak up the sun today.

I had wonderful session with my RMT at Complement in the West Van Rec centre. I’ve been seeing her for a couple of years now, and today was one of those magic sessions where I left feeling like a different person. Nice.

My newly-married-sister-in-law and her new husband are returning from leg 2 of their honeymoon in Quebec City, so thoughts of heading out on the boat to chase the sunshine for a couple of hours, had to be put on hold. They’re here overnight then head back to Portland Oregon, having now spent more of their married time in Canada than in their home country, the grand old USA. Ha!

With a small early afternoon window, I decided to do up some dill pickles. I’ve got a seemingly endless supply of fresh organic cucumbers in my garden. I love an old fashioned garlic dill pickle, and found what looks like a promising recipe/post called Dillicious! Homemade Dill Pickle Recipe the Mennonite Way.

The thing is, I’m trying this recipe with a bunch of lemon cucumbers, and a couple of Suyo Long variety – not exactly dill material, but what the heck.

I love the smell in the house – that’s awesome combination of vinegar and pickling spices that reminds me of when I was a kid, watching my aunt Simone in the kitchen. I spent most of my summers hanging out at her house with my cousins. She somehow always managed to do wonders in the kitchen while holding a cigarette in one hand and a Black Label beer in the other.

There always seemed to be an endless supply of chips and pop, which we’d get after helping her in the garden. We’d pull fresh corn and peas for dinner, then shell what seemed like bushels of peas (for freezing) while sitting in the living room watching daytime TV. I can’t eat fresh peas from the garden without being reminded of The Price is Right, The Dating Game and the Newlywed Game.

Hmm. That gives me an idea. Maybe tonight over dinner with my sister-in-law, I’ll have to give them a Newlywed Game quiz.

I know, when we open up one of these pretty little jars of dills later this winter, that the memory of my aunt Simone will be right there as well.

Bears With Me


All summer we’ve been planning a combined camping/sailing weekend with some friends of ours who are hard-core campers. They’d heard me talk about Plumper Cove Marine Park where I spent many a weekend this summer on Madsu.

Their family of five walked on the Langdale ferry at Horseshoe Bay, then took the water taxi to Keats Landing, then hiked in to the campground at Plumper Cove. While they were doing that, we sailed to Keats from Horseshoe Bay aboard Madsu.

One of the things our friends asked about were bears.  I told them not to worry, no bears on Keats, so they left their bear proofing gear (mostly food cache ropes/bags) at home.

We had a fabulous Saturday afternoon playing in the water – the cove really warms up in the Sunshine and it’s a treat to be able to spend hours and hours swimming in the sea in September in BC.

Sunday morning as we shared a cup of coffee at our friend’s campsite, the parks people came over to inform us that, in fact, a bear swam over from the mainland and was at that moment cruising the beach behind the campsite.

Much excitement ensued, including packing up all the food and bringing it down to the boat.


We left around noon, knowing that our friends, now without a speck of food, would be safe from even the hungriest black bear.  And we left Dane and the rest of the parks crew to deal with the interloper.

There was a decent inflow up Collingwood Channel, so we had a spirited broad reach in Howe Sound once we reached the channel, and it held up pretty much to all the way to Hood Point off Bowen Island.

Back on the dock at Horseshoe Bay, I was surprised to get quized about ‘the Keats bear’ by our friends on Sea Dragon.

Apparently there had been lots of VHF radio chatter about the bear, mostly warning boats anchored to keep a watch out if they were rowing to shore.

Through some bizarre alignment of planets, our friends arrived just as I was washing the boat down. They’d taken the water taxi from Keats back to Gibsons Landing, then taken a transit bus to the Landgale Ferry terminal, arriving at Horseshoe Bay just in time to catch up with us.

They fetched their car from the parkade and picked up their gear, and we all went to our respective homes to shower and tell tall tales about the bear we never even saw.

Once settled at home, I went out to dump some garbage in our big green bin, when I got a bit of a surprise.  Since we’re in bear country here on the north shore, we keep our garbage bin inside a shed.  While we were gone, a bear came by and did his/her best to try to rip the door right of the shed in hopes of getting at the bin.


The bear would have been successful too, had we not started using a piece of pipe, New York apartment style, to jam the door closed.  We’ve had the odd bear claw marks on the shed door before, but never a concerted demolition attempt.
Time for me to do a little work shoring up the door.  From the Bear Aware web site:

The rule of thumb is that if it can be dismantled using a crowbar then it is not bear proof.

All this just reminds me of how large our (by that I mean HUMAN) impact is on wildlife.

There is nothing at all unusual, at least for a bear,  about a bear swimming over to Keats Island.  It’s only an event because we’re there, totally unprepared.

Back at my place, the bear should be munching on the wild berries in the ravine behind the house, or even the apples and pears growing in my front yard.  Instead, these natural foods are ignored, in favour of human garbage, a meal residents readily provide, because its too inconvenient for us NOT to.

Canning Is Sexy


I gotta say.

Taking fresh organic vegetables out of the garden in the morning, and by early afternoon seeing them transformed into beautiful jars of food we can eat months from now, is, well…


And knowing that they’ll taste ten times better than anything I’m going to find in the supermarket, is well…



All that’s involved is:

  • a little simple chemistry with water, vinegar, sugar & salt.
  • some spices and seeds (like mustard) for taste.

Way back, when I first tried making pickles and other canned goodies, I used to phone my grandma or my mom for advice.

Today, I just have to lean over the counter to the keyboard and Bing!, within seconds I’ve got dozens of detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to make the very best [name your preserve] EVER!

It’s like having an entire old folks home full of grandmas at your disposal – even better since almost all come with reviews by people who’ve tried them.


The other thing is, this canning stuff doesn’t have to take over your life. You can easily put up just a few jars without turning your life (and your kitchen) into a cannery. Crank up the tunes, turn the burner up high, and go for it.

Today, for instance, I did 4 jars pickled beets, and 1 of picked jalapeno peppers.

Now that’s sexy.

Ok, maybe my excitement has a tiny bit to do with the fact that I’m still recovering from septicemia.

But still. I haven’t been this excited since EB showed me her…

Well, never mind.


(cross posted to VanGoGreen)

Hey Kids, Let’s Have Some Recession Fun


When I was growing up, about the same age as my kids are now, I can recall my parents talking about the great depression. ( I actually thought they meant it was, you know,  Great ! )

They got through it, but never forgot it.

It coloured their approach to work, spending, savings, credit and risk taking.

Our family lived with 2 golden rules:

  1. Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have
  2. Don’t Buy It If You Can Make It  (And 2.a,  if it looks like you should be able to make it, learn how)

My father literally made my first 2 wheeler, welding pieces of derelict bikes together, then painting it up and presenting it to me for my birthday.  I was the only kid in Grade 2 with a peddle bike that weighed more than I did, and that once underway, could go for blocks on its own momentum.  My mom sewed a lot of our clothes, and taking a tip from her mother-in-law, wrapped my lunch sandwiches in the wax paper ‘bag’ from inside the cereal box.

Growing up in the sixties, I couldn’t understand their hesitancy to get the latest and greatest on offer all around us.  Even when I finished high-school in 1974 and left home to take a job in another town, my parents still had a black & white TV.  “It works – it’s paid for”.  To this day, they don’t have voice mail.  “Why pay 3 bucks a month ?  If it’s so important, they’ll call back”.

It was easy to misconstrue all this as just being cheap.  Surrounded by the relative wealth of your average Canadian town in the 60’s, I really couldn’t understand how they could be so stuck in the 30’s.  The great! depression – get over it !

The events of the last 8 months have made it painfully clear to me why my parents understood ‘credit’ to really mean ‘debt’, and why they remained vigilant so as never to be caught out again by catostrophic economic events.

The thing is, as a family, we actually had a lot of fun with very little. While I was terribly envious of my pals at school who had summer cottages and power boats and seemingly endless supplies of pop and Old Dutch potato chips, I spent tons of time at the beach with my family.

We’d drive down to Clear Lake or Lake Dauphin for the day, and my mom would haul out her plastic bins filled with home made munchies and Kool-Aid. I can’t recall once eating in a restaurant or even at a concession stand.  What I do recall are endless days of playing in the water or on the big lawn by the beach in Wasagaming in Riding Mountain National Park.  My dad would haul out a rickety old badminton net and we’d play barefoot for hours.

We didn’t get to curl up in front of a fire at the cabin, but instead would pile back into the Chevy for the drive home. My dad would always find some bizarre back-roads route home to keep things interesting, and evenings were spent playing card games together at the kitchen table.

40 years later, I find myself out in the front yard, setting up a rickety badminton set.  My kids, weaned on PSP’s, Gameboy and Wii, are dragging me out to play with them almost every night after dinner.

This evening, we played a new card game together called Word Frenzy that costs half what we’d have to pay to go to a movie, and it had us in stitches for hours.  I’ve been told, in no uncertain terms, that we’re playing again tomorrow.

We’re finding that doing with less doesn’t mean DOING less.

In fact, I’m thinking this recession is turning out to be pretty good fun.

And I’m thinking my parents were right all along.

Now if I could only convince them to get voice mail I could call and tell them so.

Heritage In Your Backyard


We had a great time tonight at the Handsworth School Heritage Fair in North Vancouver.

Students showed off the displays they created to illustrate dozens of important events and people, all part of Canada’s heritage.


As you might expect, there were displays on historical events like Canada’s role in World War II & the underground railroad. Also, important Canadian personalities like Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas – and – Geddy Lee.

I was thrilled to see a few bits of local history get their due.

One student showcased North Shore boy Bryan Adams, and included a model stage complete with guitars and PA stacks.


Just around the corner was a display that would make Dangerous Dan proud, celebrating world-renowned North Shore trail riding (complete with the student’s own Banshee parked in front of the display).


It’s great to see teachers encouraging this kind of thing, recognizing that history makers don’t have to be ancient, and could just as well be walking up the street in Edgemont Village.

Life Needs Error Reporting

I’m convinced that, like those buttons at the cross-walk, error reporting when your software misbehaves is simply there to make you feel better. Pressing the walk button at the light doesn’t really do anything, other than giving YOU something to do.

And all those error reports you’ve been sending to Redmond ?

Given the placating nature of these devices, I think we could all use something similar in life.

Some benign, easy to maintain error reporting. Bug tracking from birth.

How hard could it be ?

I can think of quite a few times when simply rebooting my day would have been the most productive thing to do. We already have a perfectly fine example of how this would work.

Oh, and if I do decide to restart my day ?

Please, please, make sure to lose the information I was working on.



Vivaldi Never Lived in BC

Even though I’ve lived in the Lower Mainland since 1987, I’ve just now figured out the seasons.

What was throwing me off is that they aren’t distinct, discreet seasons like elsewhere in the country.

They’re mellow, they over-lap, and there are some wildcards.

Today, in a moment of clarity like I’ve never had before, it all came to me.

The seasons here go like this:

  • Mostly Snowboarding
  • Mostly Gardening
  • Mostly Sailing

Oh, we also have a season called Hawaii.

To help keep it all clear, I’ve put together a little chart – click for a larger version – print it up and stick in on the bulletin board.


cross posted to

Vintage Sound From the Prairie


Growing up in Manitoba in the 60’s and 70’s, you could tell the guys who were into music by their Garnet Amplifier t-shirts.

Garnet Amps were local, and they were hot.

The t-shirts were the sign of someone who knew what real tube amps were supposed to sound like, someone who knew gear and who rocked out.

These amps weren’t sleek and sexy like a Fender Twin. These were working heads and bottoms – made to be stacked and made to be played loud. A working man’s amp with a signature sound.

Like the amps, Garnet T-shirts were working class clothes. They came in your basic t-shirt grey – all the better for crawling around setting up gear or pulling cable in some smoky hall. And perfect for wiping up a bit of spilled brew.

If you missed it, you can still grab a little piece of genuine Canadian music history. A big thanks to Pete Thiessen of Garnet Amplifiers for keeping it all alive.

And Peter – me and Little Garn love our new (old) T’s.

Garnet Amplifiers

That Night Follows Day – Premeire

You feed us. You wash us. You dress us. You sing to us. You watch us when we are sleeping. You explain to us the different causes of illness and the different causes of war. You whisper when you think we can’t hear. You explain to us that night follows day.

It’s a big week around our place as the 2nd major thespian in our house has a show opening this week.

GB is in the cast of That Night Follows Day by Tim Etchels, opening on Wednesday at the PuSh festival in Vancouver.

It’s the North American English premiere …

That Night Follows Day starts out from observations as to how the adult world shapes the world of children. A play for adults, performed by children. With humour and great clarity, the evening explores the economies of parenthood, upbringing, discipline, control and care that define the adolescents’ worlds….The original production (in Flemish) premiered at Brussels’ KunstenFESTIVALdesArts in May 2007. Since then it has toured throughout Europe and beyond at several prestigious festivals.

More on the play, how it originally came together, and reviews of some of the (other) international productions on the author’s web site,

The show runs at PuSh February 4 – 8 at the Roundhouse in Yaletown.

There’s a mini web site/blog for the production here.

You can find out more about Theatre Replacement here.

Tickets for the Vancouver shows through the PuSh festival here

This production also goes to Seattle on March as part of On the Boards – Northwest Series. So if you’re in the US Pacific Northwest you can catch it March 20 & 21 at Behnke Centre for Contemporary Performance in Seattle.

On the Boards also has a blog for the play on their site.


The Only Bright Spot in the Economic Crisis

Worried about the global economy ?

Trying to find your way through the uncertainty ?

I have a hot tip for you on where the real growth is, during this, the worst economic crisis in 100 years.

When the sh*t hits the fan, you can do like the late Warren Zevon says and ‘send lawyers, guns, and money’.


You can do what every right thinking bureaucrat does:

B o o k a M e e t i n g.

Talk about an industry that’s taking off – there’s a veritable orgy of meetings planned. This weekend, there’s the world economic forum meeting in Dubai:

During the three-day Summit, the 700 participants of this interdisciplinary event will engage in interactive workshops and sessions to set priorities for the most compelling ideas for improving the state of the world, from groundbreaking areas of research to new and exciting developments and cross-cutting solutions to address the world’s challenges

Since fall is swiftly moving to winter, any good meeting planner knows the best thing is to have your meeting somewhere warm. Dubai may be hot, but Sao Paulo’s hotter

Officials from the rich and the emerging countries of the G20 will gather in Sao Paulo this weekend to discuss the global financial crisis, but by the time they sit down, a much smaller meeting that has attracted far less attention may already have set the agenda.

Of course, any good meeting worth its salt is really just a precursor to another meeting. This weekend’s meeting in Dubai ? It’s really just a warm up for the other world economic forum meeting in January:

Against a background of economic uncertainty and global crisis, the World Economic Forum has announced record engagement from business, government and other leaders for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009 in January. More than 20 heads of state/government, including G8 countries, and close to 1,000 business leaders have already confirmed their participation, demonstrating the need for governments and business to sit together and focus on an agenda to restore sustained economic growth.

Of course, here in North America, we’re looking forward to the big meeting on November 15th called by George Bush (I dare say when you get a request in Outlook for a meeting featuring BUSH you’re sure to respond).

The beauty of this meeting business is that for every great meeting, there’s also a pre-meeting

US President George W. Bush announced Thursday that he and president-elect Barack Obama would discuss matters like global economic turmoil and the war in Iraq “early next week.”….The meeting will come just days before world leaders converge on Washington for a November 15 summit to address the causes of and remedies to the international economic meltdown, likely the first in a series.

And of course, by the time the meeting is actually held, we’ve already been told what the attendees are going to say when they get there.

In the entertainment business, we call this ‘phoning it in’. In other words, you don’t really need to be there.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he will urge world leaders meeting later this month to make “selective” improvements to financial regulation, to avoid protectionism and use “sensible” fiscal policies to navigate the uncertain global economic waters.

All these meetings make me absolutely giddy with economic spin-off possibilities.

Imagine all the travel, hotel rooms, cabs, room service, printing, lounge singers and hookers who’ll benefit – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I once worked at a place where we instituted the BlackJack Meeting Rule – no meeting could last more than 21 minutes. It’s one way of keeping meetings to the point and getting to the good stuff, and you can do it on a conference call.

Of course, that would suck for the world economy.

So leaders of the world – keep sending those meeting requests, and let’s see if we can’t juice up the world economy the good old fashioned way – with rubber chicken dinners and endless PowerPoint presentations.

Go Figure

  • Oil prices had their biggest gains ever on Friday, jumping nearly $11 to a new record above $138 a barrel according to the International Herald Tribune . Here in Vancouver gas is around 1.40 a litre and isn’t planning on going anywhere but up. Meanwhile, GM’s closing a truck plant in Oshawa, despite the fact the plant was the pilot site to build a new hybrid truck for GM . CAW boss Buzz Hargrove, on CBC’s As It Happens, says GM told him they’ll only be able to sell 3 or 4 thousand new hybrid trucks a year, so they’ll built them in Mexico.
  • Syphoning gas, popular when I was a teenager, is back.
  • CBC declines to renew the Hockey Night in Canada theme, launches contest in partnership with Nettwerk to find new theme.
  • Ed McMahon can’t afford to pay his mortgage – he’s behind $ 644,000 in mortgage payments and can’t seem to sell is 6.2 million dollar Beverly Hills mansion. Wife says they could have planned a bit better..
  • A new report says the Writers Guild of America strike pushed California into a recession and cost the state 2.1 billion dollars.
  • I guess the rabbits were right…pine bark is good for you.
  • Personal drug use may be unconstitutional in Argentina.
  • Meanwhile, civic leader in Port Coquitlam off meds and drunk, one way to make headlines.
  • Drivers in Cypress are being asked not to leave their cars while still in motion.

Mast Conduit and Primed

One last thing to do before I can paint Madsu’s mast, and that’s installing conduit for wiring inside the mast.

Madsu had no steaming or anchor light, and last season I got by with a portable LED that I’d hoist when needed. It worked ok but wasn’t great. When I redid the electrical system last month I installed enough circuits to incude a steaming light and masthead anchor light.

I debated whether it was worth the trouble of running conduit up the mast – but figure if I don’t I’ll be regretting it the first night an anchor as the wires clang away inside the mast.

I opted for 3/4 inch PVC conduit that will have more than enough room for the 3 wires I need to run – plus room for VHF coaxial should I decide to add a masthead antennae later. I got a laugh when I saw the label on the conduit – C22 for a C22. Nice.

Of course the conduit has to be secured, or it will bang around. This is easier said than done.

The conduit is riveted in place using a technique I read about online somewhere. Starting at the base of the mast I was able to hold the conduit in place while I drilled a hole in the mast and the conduit and popped in a rivet.

From there it’s a matter of drilling a hole 6 inches or so along, using a small Allen key to hook the conduit through the hole (in order to hold it in place), then drill another hole a further six inches along and pop a rivet in. After I was done, I filled all the extra holes and was ready to etch, condition and prime.

The mast got it’s first layer of base coat this afternoon – the boom got its 3rd and final coat of base. I should be able to get a couple more coats of base on the mast tomorrow, then on to the topcoat in a couple of days, assuming the weather holds.

Naked Boom Gets Primed

I sanded Madsu’s boom down to bare metal yesterday as I get ready to paint it.

After removing all the hardware I sited all the new/changed hardware and drilled and tapped the holes. I’ll use stainless machine screws instead of the self-tapping screws the previous owner loved. I’ve filled all the old holes with Star Brite aluminum epoxy.

The spar’s in great shape. I used a rotary sander to get the mast stripped down then use my Makita sander with 220 paper to prep it.

I used PPG DX 533 to etch the boom, then quickly followed up with PPG DX 503 conditioner. I got both at my local Lordco auto parts store – way cheaper than trying to find the marine version of same.

Once the DX 503 was rinsed and the boom dried, I immediately got the first coat of primer on. You can’t let the aluminum sit for any length of time after treatment because of oxidization (so I’m told).

I’ve opted for the tried-but-true-but-messy-and-smelly 2 part primer.

The Interlux 2 part is a lot more trouble – it’s really 3 part because even after you mix the 404 base with the 413 reactor, you still have to thin it 20 to 25%.

I wasn’t really sure how to work with the base – it’s the consistency of pudding – and you can’t pour it. I just stuck a mixing stick into the can and pulled it out, about an ounce or so stuck to the stick and I was able to use this ‘honey stick’ method to measure out what I needed.

I first tired a small foam roller – that was useless. Next I tried a disposable foam brush – that worked better. But a regular paint brush works best of all – the paint is thick and spreads beautifully, and there’s no worry about brush strokes showing up.

(boom after 1st coat of primer)

I left it overnight and sanded with 220 paper and got a 2nd coat on this morning. The weather’s been cold and I’d prefer it was a bit warmer to make sure the primer is really baked – I’ll give it a couple of days then do a 3rd base coat.

Now that I’m confident with is all going to work (!), I’ll strip the mast and get it primed, then I’ll topcoat both the boom and the main at the same time. I’m using Interlux Perfection, another 2 part, for the topcoat.

A quick survey of my mast hardware turned up a few issues. I was hoping to replace the spreader brackets, so last fall I ordered a stainless set from Catalina Direct.

Turns out my spreaders are 1 1/8th inch in diameter but the new brackets are 1 inch. Ugh. I’m thinking I’ll either leave the old brackets (which Catalina Direct claims are prone to unexpected breakage) or visit my new best friends at the metal store and pick up some 1 inch aluminum tubing and make my own ‘new’ spreaders.

Outhaul Exit Tweak

I’ve finally finished tweaking Madsu’s boom for the new internal outhaul system I mentioned a few days ago.

In order to make sure the outhaul doesn’t bind when pulling on the main, I figure I have to get the exit block at the end of the boom up as high as possible – which actually means mounting it in the sail track.

So the challenge here was how to mount the Harken thru-deck turning block in what is essentially the sail track. I also want the block to be rock-solid.

Working on the farm with my dad and uncles, they’d often have to tweak some piece of machinery – and in French they’d call that tweak a “patent”. Cleary, that’s what’s called for here.

All I really want to do is bolt the block in place, but there isn’t room for me to get a lock nut on the forward end of the block. I probably could rivet it in place, but I’m not convinced that’s going to work.

So, I figured I’d make an aluminum plate that will slide inside track, under the block. I’ll drill and tap for fasteners and it should all work ! The photo below shows how I want the block to sit, tight up against the slot in the boom.

I’m not really equipped to be machining parts, but I figured with my jig saw and a bench grinder, I should be able to make something that would work.

It isn’t pretty, but it’ll be out of sight anyway. Not the simplest thing to cut with a jig saw, I’ll say that much…

Here’s my “patent” when I slide it into the sail track.

The idea is that the thru-deck block is now sandwiched between my “patent” and the top of the sail track.

All I need to do now is drop in a stainless steel machine screw, tighten it up, and my exit thru-deck block is rock solid (I’ve left off the block cover so you can see the detail a bit better).

This was the last bit of detail I needed to finish on the boom before painting.

I’ve now drilled and tapped holes for all the boom hardware, including cheek-blocks for reefing lines, the outhaul exit block and cleat, and a few more bits of hardware for line management.

I’ve opted to simplify the reefing system quite a bit, just going to use a hook at the tack. For the clew, I’ll just use a single line attached to boom, up through the through the ‘new’ clew, down to a cheek-block on the other side of the boom, and forward to a cleat near the front of the boom.

Last season I was using a single line reefing system, with the line brought back to the cockpit. This was the set-up from the previous owner, and it was a nuisance.

For one, I was always going to the mast to lower the main halyard anyway, so having the reefing line in the cockpit was unhelpful. When not in use, the long line was always getting in the way no matter how often I stowed it, and when we dropped the main, it was even more in the way.

My new North Sails main has 2 reef points, so I’ve got 2 identical lines set up at the clew end. From their cheeck blocks they go forward along the boom, lead through beckets to the cleat.

The boom is stripped of all the hardware now, all the holes are drilled and tapped, so if the weather improved a bit I’ll try etching and painting the boom in the next few days