Chandlery June 1, 1999 Issue

Trim Design Turnbuckle

Big ships had bulwarks, hip-high extensions of the topsides to prevent the crew from falling or being swept overboard. Yachts had nothing; maybe a toerail. Crew were expected to have sticky feet.

Then came lifelines, which originally were lines strung on big ship decks to facilitate fore-and-aft movement.

On yachts, at first, they were single spans of wire supported by stanchions. Then came double lifelines, which soon were mandated by racing organizations. The more the merrier, at least for the C. Sherman Johnson Co., which was started as a hobby by Curt Johnson, Jr. in 1958, about the time that lifelines really took hold.

Johnson is big in lifelines, so Curt’s boys, Burt and Curt III, give lifeline hardware a lot of thought.

Their latest is a snag-free turnbuckle called a “Smooth Line.” It’s a very trim, modern design with nothing to slice a finger, catch a watch strap or snag your sweater sleeve…as open body turnbuckles locked with cotter pins often do.

A modification of Johnson’s other tubular turnbuckles secured with check nuts or captive locking rings, the Smooth Line turnbuckle has internal threads that, on the wire end, accept a threaded cap behind which is a crimped-on sleeve to secure the wire. On the other end is a bronze, threaded cylinder swaged on the rod that has a Tee fitting for a shackle. When finally assembled and adjusted, the wire end cap is fixed in place with Loctite #242 threadlock and the shackle end is secured with a set screw, which also could use a dab of Loctite.

It’s all done internally, all stainless except for the non-galling bronze adjustment threads.

A small thing, surely, but if you’re replacing lifelines, the new ones are, for not a lot more money, much nicer on the hands and much better looking. For instance, a 3/16" wire, 1/4" pin lock ring turnbuckle sells for $24.50. The same size in the Smooth Line is $30.05.

The Smooth Line turnbuckles can be crimped by hand (with the proper tool), but both Johnson and Practical Sailor recommend machine swaging. (Johnson Marine, Industrial Park, East Haddam, CT 06423, 860/873-8697.)

We love books. Especially as several of us here have authored a few. A recent development in the history of publishing has been the publication of books on the Internet—no paper, no binding, just digitized letters, usually in some horrid font. One immediately realizes that book design is an important element. More, there’s nothing quite like feeling the heft of a good book in one’s hand. It’s portable, handsome, and if printed on decent paper, long-lasting.

That said, here are our thoughts on a number of recently released nautical books.

Few yachting authors have been as prolific as Lin and Larry Pardey. Beginning with their classic, Cruising in Serrafyn, they’ve covered the subject of cruising thoroughly. Following a series of Serrafyn’s adventures (Europe, Mediterranean and the Orient), they uncorked The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, a treatise on making life comfortable at sea. Their Storm Tactics Handbook is an important addition to the literature of small boat handling in heavy weather. Then Larry undertook the mammoth Details of Classic Boat Construction: The Hull.

Today we have before us the Cost Conscious Cruiser: Champagne Cruising on a Beer Budget. Long champions of small boats, they coined the unforgettable incitation: Go simple, go small, go now.

As in their previous books, the Pardeys seem genuinely interested in helping others break the bonds and go cruising. An entire chapter, for example, is devoted to methods of reducing headsail area in order to avoid the cost and potential complication of furling gear. Another advocates tiller steering over wheels, with details of cost savings. Nor would they mind if you go engineless. One of the more fascinating tables is a comparison of gear carried by the Pardeys, Roths and Hiscocks to the typical gear-happy 35-foot cruiser. The book concludes with a list of low-cost, do-it-yourself projects. And they always manage to share a good bit of their own experience to make their point. Of course, there is much more than we can describe herein, but suffice to say that the Cost Conscious Cruiser is a valuable resource to anyone contemplating the cruising lifestyle, and not just those on a shoestring budget. Still, the Pardeys’ philosophy is a good antidote to the headaches most of us experience when trying to figure out how to pay for all the electronics and other gear we think we have to have. We don’t, and Lin and Larry will tell you why. (359 pages; $29.95. L&L Pardey Books; 800/736-4509.)

If you enjoyed reading Sebastian Unger’s The Perfect Storm, then Tony Farrington’s Rescue in the Pacific will keep you in the same dark, awe-inspired mood. Fifty-foot waves, cyclonic winds, nothing short of a weather “bomb.” It happened to a fleet of cruising sailors en route from New Zealand to Tonga in early June, 1994. The fleet included a Norseman 447, Catalac 41 catamaran, Cheoy Lee Offshore 40 yawl, Westsail 32 cutter, and a number of monohulls and catamarans from New Zealand. They all were pounded, and three persons lost their lives. Others were lucky just to lose their boats. This account is live with daring rescues, the jubilation of salvation and the despair of failure. (273 pages; $21.95. International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 800/262-4729.)

Tom Neale, a Cruising World contributing editor whom we mentioned last month is now publishing his own newsletter, Cruising Coast & Islands, also has a new book titled All in the Same Boat. The others in Tom’s boat, Chez Nous, a Gulfstar Sailmaster 47, are his wife Mel, daughters Melanie and Carolyn, and YOU. One of his missions in life is to invite others aboard, figuratively and literally, whether it be to the cockpit of Chez Nous for happy hour, or into the marvelous, unexpected world of cruising under sail. Being a Southerner, he’s good at it. A former trial lawyer, he’s also smart. All in the Same Boat is a wide-ranging treatment of the principal issues, from how to drop out gracefully to anchoring gear, refrigeration, finding the groove, and answers to questions such as, “What on earth do you do all day?” (Work on the boat, of course! Well, not all day.) Having raised two children aboard, their insights will be particularly helpful to prospective cruisers with children themselves (let ‘em have a computer, but make them work the boat, too). This is good stuff. (374 pages; $22.95. International Marine/McGraw-Hill; 800/262-4729.) Or call Tom’s toll free number at 877-277-4628 for an autographed copy.

Every writer has his own way of imparting information to the uninitiated, and if you’ve read Herb Payson’s classic cruising tale, Blown Away, you’ll know that his new book, Advice to the Sealorn, is funny. Written in the form of a Dear Abby column, Herb answers numerous questions, such as this one from “Faithless in South Hampton,” who writes, “Dear Herb: I’ve read your stuff over the years, and it seems to me that you telling people how to anchor is a lot like O.J. Simpson lecturing husbands on domestic relations. My questions are: 1) How am I supposed to put my trust in advice given by someone who’s dragged all over the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean? and 2) by the way, have you ever made a list of all the places where you’ve dragged anchor?” Herb’s response: “The answer to 1) is, you can’t. To 2) no, but here are the instances I remember…” If you want to laugh while learning, Payson is your seer. (343 pages; $35. Sheridan House; 888/743-7425.)

Timing is everything. Last summer, just as we were packing for a raft trip down Utah’s Green River, we received from Weems & Plath a sample Pack-Mate. It’s subtitled, “The Compressible Reusable Storage Bag,” with “tough 3 mil triple laminate construction.” It has “valve locks” to keep moisture and odors out.

To use, one unrolls the bag, stuffs it (in our case, with camera, accessories and film), rolls out the air, then seals it by closing the two resealable zippers à la Zip-loc bags. Two sizes are available: 14" x 19-1/2" and 18" x 27-1/2". These are outer dimensions and usable space is a bit less.

Our Pack-Mate was well tested on the Green River and passed, preventing any spray from touching the camera. Not that we’re surprised. After all, it’s just a heavy, plastic bag with big zippers. Nor did we immerse it. But considering that high humidity and salt air is so damaging to some gear, such as a camera, having a handful of Pack-Mates on board would be a right, sensible thing to do. West Marine (800/262-8464) sells them for $6.99 and $8.99. As long as we’re talking about plastic bags, West also sells the Evert-Fresh food storage bags that keep fruit and vegetables fresh longer, which we reviewed in the October 1, 1996 issue. (Weems & Plath, 222 Severn Ave., Annapolis, MD 21403-2569; phone 410/263-6700;

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