As you can see photography is not one of my strong suits. From our far corner of the boatyard you can just see the mouth of Locklies Creek opening onto the Rappahannock River. The bridge across the river from Topping to Irvington is usually visible above the treetops. The Rapp is a substantial body of water, at least for the small daysailer that we cut our teeth on before purchasing “Old Salt.” About 8 miles East of us the Rappahannock hits the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay. We’re located on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, bound by the Rappahannock to the North, the York River to the South, and Mobjack Bay to the East. I’ve been sailing small boats since I was a kid, but I think I’ve learned more lessons the hard way on the Rappahannock than anywhere else.  Earlier this year I nearly sank the daysailer when I made the ultimate rookie mistake, forgetting to put the butt plug in. We made it back to my buddy’s boat lift just as the water was pouring in through the top of the centerboard trunk.


My most epic set of misjudgements resulting in hard-won experience also occurred on the Rappahannock, but that’s a story for another post.



5 hours of sanding with a random orbit sander has yielded a single pass on the port side of the boat. Unfortunately I haven’t even come close to removing the gel coat, it seems a more aggressive approach will be necessary… So while figuring out the next step for the hull I’ve decided to turn my attention to the practice of splicing rope.

Splicing is one of those old school sailor things that I’ve always wanted to learn, so I sat down with spike, rope, numerous references, and Mtn Dew Code Red.

The first step is to unlay the rope and whip the ends of the individual strands to prevent them from unraveling. 30 minutes and one false start later, I’ve switched to beer.

Brian Toss’ “The Rigger’s Apprentice” is an excellent resource and recommends using a nifty little knot called the “Double Constrictor.” Here it’s used to prevent the standing part of the rope from unlaying further as you begin the splice.

Getting the splice started is the tricky part, apparently there are several schools of thought. The entrance I used is known as the “Pro Splice” as opposed to the “Mariner’s Splice.” I have no idea what the difference is. Once the knot is started, it’s fairly straightforward to weave the strands together, although I found it difficult to find where to tuck the third strand in sequence. After another false start, occasional wailing, and much grinding of teeth, I completed something you might categorize as a splice.  I think I went backwards with a tuck at one point but I’m pleased with the result. Next time will be better.

On the subject of Through-Hulls

“Old Salt” has a grand-total of 8 through-hulls below the waterline. 8! I have no idea what most of them do, but 8 is a ridiculous number for a 26ft boat with simple systems. There is a school of thought among sailors (or perhaps I should say sailors who write books about sailing) that through-hulls below the waterline are bad news bears. It makes sense, a through-hull is a hole in your boat waiting for a hose clamp or gate valve to fail and sink you. The anarchic yacht designer George Buehler writes about a guy who went so far as to put the discharge from the head above the waterline. Pretty crude stuff. Unfortunately, the days of pumping raw sewage over the side are long gone. Figuring out a new set-up for the head is just another bullet on a long bandolier of things to do. I guess I’m gonna have to figure out where all these holes go as well.

Here it is: the most awkward gallery of boat-orifices ever

Better Living Through Chemistry

Spent most of the day finishing up scraping the underbody,  we now have most of the top layer of anti-fouling removed. As I mentioned earlier, we are planning on taking the hull down to the fiberglass, removing the outer layers of paint and gelcoat to fix the crazing problem. Lookee here:

It looks scary, but from what I can gather it’s no-biggie.  The next step is to remove what remains of the 2nd layer of anti-fouling paint (the blue stuff in the picture), and unfortunately the hook scraper doesn’t seem to be cutting it.  We could probably sand it off along with the gelcoat, but the marina frowns on excessive toxic dust floating around…I’m thinking of using paint stripper. Dichloromethane, aka methylene chloride is fun stuff, it’s known to the state of California to cause you to start driving a hybrid and eating tofu, or something like that. At any rate, in addition to it’s exciting physiological effects, it also apparently eats gelcoat. Under normal circumstances that would be undesirable, but since I want to remove the gelcoat anyway…If someone in internet-land thinks this is a terrible idea, lemme know. Applying paint stripper with the intention of softening the gelcoat sounds a little bit like self-prescribed off-label use (speaking of California) but it might do a better job than I will with a sander. We’ll see. I tested some on a patch of hull and it werks purty good.