Generally, the answer is, as big as you think you can afford (and maybe a bit more!)
This makes sense for plastic boat sailors, whose boats are essentially frozen in time, but I think there's a better formula for wooden boat builder/sailors: small enough so that you can improve the boat a bit faster than it deteriorates.
This means, not so small that its too easy to keep the boat in pristine condition (what's the fun in that, for a boat builder?), and not so big that you can't keep up with both basic maintenance and interesting improvements.
Thus, optimal boat-size must depend on the owner's time, resources, and skill. Only time will tell if the Blue Moon is the right size boat for Helena and me, but so far, we're doing all right.
As I've mentioned in earlier posts, my focus this spring has been on improving and strengthening the BM's running rigging -- the lines (ropes) and other equipment used to control her sails.
Among other improvements, I've replaced her motley assortment of old and worn-out lines with new ones. In particular, I have banned all those colored yacht-braids that grated on me all last summer. I know they are strong and popular, but they just don't go with the BM's traditional look.
I should say, I've been learning to build blocks, because block building turns out to require a vast array of skills. But with some help from the guys on the WoodenBoat Forum, and the amazingly useful Ashley's Book of Knots, I'm gradually 'getting it'.
Grommet too long; thimble too big/ugly; seizing all wrong.
Grommet seized under tension -- better, but still too long.
Grommet shorter, but still a bit too long; better thimble,
'Mark II' block (rounded, instead of square), grommet finally the
right size, vastly improved seizing.
I was happy enough with the 'Mark II' block that I installed it on the BM's deck as my main sheet turning block.
I've also been completely replacing the absolutely wretched and dangerous hardware installed on the BM's boom for the outhaul and reefing lines. That re-fit deserves it's own blog post, but I'm so excited about one part of it that I must mention it today: wooden cleats!
When I was painting my spars, I removed all the old hardware and vowed not to reinstall any of it. But what to replace it with?
One thing I needed was a boom cleat for the outhaul tackle -- just a short but sturdy cleat that would fit on the boom. I removed an old plastic one that was covered with paint: serviceable but ugly. I looked at bronze ones, but they were a bit pricey.
I kept reading that wooden cleats were strong, cheap, and easy to build, so decided to give it a try.
I started by making a pattern. I had no idea what I was doing, so just started with some basic shapes. The two circles are 1/2" in diameter -- chosen so that the cleat would be able to handle 3/8" rope with no problem.
|Pattern laid on stock|
Before cutting out the cleat, I drilled the holes on my incredibly useful drill press. How did I ever live before getting it?
|Cut-out blank on left; shaped and sanded cleat on right|
Once the blank was cut out, it was again fairly easy to round the edges with a variety of rasps, including my micro-plane rasps, which I still love.
A bit of sanding, and a coat of linseed oil and, voila!, a beautiful looking boom cleat!
|Oiled cleat before drilling mounting holes|
And that's what I mean by 'gradual improvements'.
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