PS Advisor 04/01/00
The issue du jour is weather cloths. How do I mount them aboard my Cabo Rico 38 so they withstand a boarding sea, yet give when they absolutely have to give, like a knockdown ?
Weather cloths are usually sewn from canvas, Sunbrella or lighter synthetic material such as Dacron in panels designed to fit between sections of the stern pulpit and between lifeline stanchions. They generally are run from the stern pulpit to the stanchion forward of the cockpit. You may need to cut holes in strategic places for winch handles, etc. They can be tied at the top and bottom ends and middles with light line through grommets to the stanchions, stanchion bases or toe rail, and lifelines. Grommets should have reinforcing patches sewn underneath. Stronger would be to lace weather cloths through additional grommets, but in the face of boarding seas they will probably carry away, bending stanchions and pulpits with them. Weather cloths are made to provide crew protection from spray and wind, not to deflect full boarding seas. Better to let weather cloths blow out than to cripple your pulpits and lifelines.
What is the proper way to mount lee cloths?
Lac La Biche, Alberta
There are a number of ways. One strong method is to sew hems in both top and bottom edges. Obviously, the stitching has to be good and strong, too. Run a wood or fiberglass batten through the bottom hem and through-bolt it through the fabric and batten to the berth bottom. Use washers top and bottom. If the bottom side of the bunk is inaccessible, screws are probably adequate, as the sideways loads place the fasteners in sheer only.
Run a rope through the top hem and tie it off to eyes through-bolted to bulkheads fore and aft of berth. Be sure their placement is slightly inside the edge of the berth so that when rigged the lee cloth slopes inward because the weight of a body on the lee cloth always makes it bulge out. You can splice snap hooks in the ends of the rope or better yet, leave enough rope to lead through the eyes and back to itself so you can tie off with rolling hitches at the desired tension.
In the tropics, a mesh lee cloth is more comfortable than canvas.
What is the proper procedure for replacing shaft packing?
Lake St. Clair, Michigan
Conventional bronze stuffing boxes (or packing glands) are attached to a stern tube in the hull (glassed in, on fiberglass boats) by means of a rubber hose and secured with hose clamps. This allows the gland to center itself on the shaft.
To replace the packing, first buy the right thickness lubricated flax; it has to fit between the shaft and the inside of the glandósay 1/4". You donít want to cram it in because tightening the gland will force it to expand somewhat. At the same time, you donít want it loose.
Insert at least three rings of flax around the shaft. To ensure a good watertight joint where the two ends of the flax meet, cut each end at 45 degrees so you get a scarf. You can do this on the shaft outside the gland. Once youíre satisfied the flax is the right length, push it into the gland with a blunt object that will fit between the shaft and gland. Work your way around the shaft shoving a little flax in at a time.
When youíve filled up the gland, screw down the compression nut and lock nut onto the gland body. Thatís it. Check it soon thereafter; conventional packing should leak a drop or two of water every minute. Donít overtighten as you may score the shaft.
New materials, such as Drip-Free packing, that contain hydrocarbons and Teflon, should not allow any dripping. Itís expensive at about $50 but guaranteed for the life of your boat. Weíve used it for years with good results. Enough other water manages to find its way into the boat without intentionally introducing it through the packing gland!
Contact-Drip-Free Packing, PO Box 66795, St. Petersburg Beach, FL 33736; 727/345-3354.