August 2010

Triton #503 is launched

After completing several projects, including the tilt-up outboard well on Triton #503 Salty, we launched the boat at a local Brunswick area boatyard. We took Salty on a 17 mile test trip motoring to her new slip near St. Simon's Island. The 6 HP 20-inch shaft outboard motor functioned as expected, pushing the Triton at 5.5 knots in calm waters and up to 5 knots bucking a slight chop in 15 knot headwinds when we got into the sound close to the ocean inlet.


The Triton Salty tests her new outboard motor well.


Triton owner, Bo Mann, secures the motor in its tilted up position.

The vibration and noise from the motor is more noticeable than when hung farther aft off the transom, but this is outweighed by the benefits of having the motor on the centerline where it is unaffected by rolling, with prop lower and further forward to reduce pitching effects and all-round better performance, protection and aesthetics. We found that we could put the motor access hatch down and cover board in place to deaden the noise and there was still adequate ventilation for the engine so it was not a big issue. I'm looking forward to actual offshore sea trials. This modification should prove a good compromise for auxiliary power on similar sized voyaging boats whose owners don't want a heavy, space-wasting inboard engine or an awkward transom mounted outboard motor. More details are on the Salty Projects page.

Atom comes home

Once Salty was out of the shed, I brought Atom home for a much needed refit after several years of neglect where she patiently waited on her mooring behind a friend's house on the Ogeechee River near Savannah.

Instead of motor-sailing Atom the 80-some miles down to Brunswick to haul out I decided to drop the mast at our friend's dock next to our mooring and then motor Atom a few miles down the Ogeechee to haul at Fort McAllister Marina, which boasts the largest fixed boat hoist in Georgia. What they mean by "fixed hoist" is that it is not a travelift. But the 15 ton crane does travel on its overhead rails from the the launch slip to the land where you can pull your own trailer up to load the boat onto. Total cost to haul Atom there was $48 plus $30 for them to assist in cleaning the bottom before lowering onto our trailer.

These type boat hoists are the least expensive way to haul your boat if you own a trailer. They usually haul sport fishing boats of all sizes, but this particular marina has had experience hauling a few sailboats as well and has various size straps and plenty of overhead lift clearance. The problem with these lifts is that they usually have no facility to lower or raise your mast, which you'll have to do elsewhere if you don't have a self-raising tabernacle system on your boat. This is something I'd like to add to Atom. Meanwhile, we used the age-old technique of bringing Atom between two friend's boats and using their halyards to lower the mast.


With Atom moored between an Alberg 30 and Dan Grant's Columbia 8.7, we lower her mast using the other boat's halyards.

AtomMastStep_2Atom's mast comes down gently to rest on the bow pulpit and wooden brace in the cockpit. The mast can be raised this way as well using the other boat's halyards and winches.

To keep our original trailer available for future customer's boats, I purchased a custom made boat trailer for Atom from Sail Trailers of Columbus, GA. They do an excellent job building trailers for all types of sailboats, particularly for customers on the US Southeast and Gulf coasts. If you want to store or work on your boat in your backyard, contact Todd and Spencer at the link above or phone them at: 706-888-6722.



An embarrassing amount of weeds have grown on Atom's hull during her long layover on the Ogeechee River near Savannah. With mast stowed on deck, this boat hoist easily lifted Atom onto her trailer.

AtomTrailer_1Atom's new custom made trailer from Sail Trailers

AtomTrailer_2Atom loaded on her new trailer and on her way home at last.


In our backyard we use tackle to hoist the mast off the boat.


After hoisting the mast, Atom is backed into her shed and the mast lowered in preparation for storing behind the workshop.

April 2010

Boat sheds and new Triton projects

This March I decided working on boats under tarps was too awkward to continue so we installed next to our workshop these two metal boat sheds from TNT Carports. I have two boats of my own that need work at the moment and usually have customer's boats waiting to be worked on. The climate in coastal SE Georgia allows us to work outside year-round so a completely enclosed shed is not needed. It's also too hot in the summer and too dark inside for an enclosed shed. Certainly, a hurricane could carry these away, but with open sides they have a fair chance to stand up to high winds if properly anchored.


Both sheds have an entryway clearance of 13'6" and are high enough inside to stand on the deck while working. The shed on the left is 12' wide and the one on the right is 18' wide. Both are 31' long.

Salty_10The Triton Salty rests on our trailer under the new shed as we give her a top to bottom refit.

(Update: For details of some of the work done on Salty, check Triton Salty Refit Projects.)

January 2010

Return to the Virgins

The air temps were just above freezing on the early mid-January morning when we sailed out St. Simon's Inlet on the Liberty 49, Windstar, bound for the Virgin Islands. This is the same boat we extensively refurbished and upgraded and had assisted the owners sail her to the Caribbean and back to Brunswick, GA two years earlier. This nonstop passage was leg one of what the owners planned as an extended cruise through the islands, eventually going as far as Trinidad.


Liberty 49, Windstar

January can be a miserably cold and stormy month for a passage off the US east coast. Cold fronts pass through every week, sometimes bringing gale force conditions and headwinds are a near certainty. At least this sea-tested 49-foot cutter was well-suited to the task and the enclosed dodger/bimini kept us relatively comfortable in the cold north wind. Our course was SE for about seventy miles until we noticed the slowing effect of the Gulf Stream Current, at which point we altered course more to the east to cross the current at a right angle. In this area the main part of the stream was only about thirty miles wide and soon we were east of it and caught a slight counter-current to assist us as we resumed the SE course.

By day three the air and water temps had warmed up and we enjoyed a fresh-caught bonito mackerel pulled in over the stern and cooked on the grill on the pushpit as we motorsailed in light winds. A 40-knot gale was forecast for our waters the following day so we pressed on to the south. We managed to stay ahead of the gale but the price we paid was to beat against shifty headwinds for several days. At 23 degrees north, the tradewinds settled in from the east and we carried full main, yankee and staysail on a close-reach.

We spotted an average of two or three ships a day, all but one of which we picked up on the AIS-equipped plotter before actually sighting them. On previous passages when I sighted a ship on a collision course at night I was obliged to flash a spotlight on our sails or embarrass him with a light shone momentarily on his bridge. By day or night, I might hail him on the VHF, "Ship approaching, this is the sailing vessel off your bow..." Now with this VHF based AIS (automatic identification system) I could see him on our chart plotter and hear an alarm if he approached within our alarm proximity. The chartplotter displays the ship's name and type, speed, course, position, size, destination, draft and more. It soon becomes obvious if we are on a collision course and if so, I call the ship by name and ask if he intends to pass ahead or astern of us. With the alarm feature, an AIS receiver is an attractive low-power alternative to radar for the small boat sailor and I intend to install a unit on Atom before her next passage.

One day before we arrived, on our tenth day at sea, I found myself locked in the forward crew head with the boat heeled sharply and pounding her way to windward. The door latch had broken when I closed the door, jammed in the shut position, and nothing I could do would free it up. For several long minutes after I called for assistance, there was no reply. It turned out the others were busy at the other end of the boat pulling in another fish. Once I got their attention, the hardest part of extricating myself was convincing the owner to drill through his teak door frame to push the stuck bolt clear of the latch. "James, I can't destroy my teak door frame!"

"Well, we can fix it later and I do need to get out of here eventually..."

Of all the dangers at sea, I had never considered the threat of being locked in the head. When singlehanding in the future, I'll remember to keep a hammer and sharp chisel in a locker inside any room with a latching door.

We did get our 30-40 knots of wind with squalls on the last night before arriving. Windstar stood up well beating to windward with more than half the mainsail and part of the staysail rolled up on their furlers. We discovered after arrival, the enormous strains had slightly deformed the staysail chainplate and the pounding waves against the anchors had beat up some of the teak planks on the bowsprit. Otherwise, it was a trouble-free passage, aside from the embarrassment of needing rescue from the locked head.