Monday, December 15, 2014

Fiddling Around

Work continues, slowly, on the boat.  A few days ago I decided to fix the other side of the arch since it seemed pretty obvious that a prior delamination repair attempt was poorly done.  So more epoxy has been applied and cured, some faring compound has been added and sanded, and if the weather holds tomorrow I'll probably apply the gel coat.  Given the mess I made spraying it last time, I think I'm going to try brush application this time.

While things were curing/drying, I decided to go up the mast to attempt to figure out what has happened to my deck light.  Last time I was in Brunswick I fixed a broken wire and on the trip up to Virginia it went out again.  When I was in Southport, I tried replacing the bulb and that is when I found that it wasn't the bulb but somewhere in between.  So, today I went up to see if I could figure out anything more.  The only thing I really figured out was that 12 volts was available at the connector below the mast but disappears before it reaches the bulb.  They must be magic electrons.

While setting up to go up the mast, I noticed some chafing on my spinnaker halyard line.  It appears to be rubbing excessively against the spreaders, so I found a new place to secure it when not in use that should alleviate the chafing.  But this got me thinking about replacing that line.

Unlike the other lines that I have replaced on the boat thus far, this line has an eye splice at the end for a shackle so you can easily attach the spinnaker.  Now I know one can order lines with splices, but I think knowing how to splice lines is a good skill for a sailor to know so I decided I should learn how to do it.

I consulted the oracle, and found some links to instructions and videos.  There are varying techniques, but they all follow the same basic process.

Of course, in order to splice line, you need the special needle-like tools called fids.  They are kind of like knitting needles except instead of the standard end they have a tapered cut and are hollow so they can be used a bit like a sewing needle.  Of course, I didn't have these handy little tools.  I tried using a partially deconstructed ball point pen, but that didn't work.  I was talking with Mark, one of my new friends at the dock, and he said he had a set and since they are "swallowing the anchor" he gave them to me.  Thanks Mark, I hope to put them to good use.

On a side note...if you are looking for a 50' mono-hull, their completely refitted '87 Gulfstar is an impressive boat.  Mark is a woodworker and engineer and the boat is gorgeous and systems seem to be immaculate...right down to the wiring behind the electrical panel that would put every boat maker to shame.  And for the James Bond in all of us, the dishwasher that pops out of the galley counter at the push of a button and the companionway steps that automatically raise to provide access to the immaculate engine room are just jaw dropping.

Anyway, this evening I decided to try a practice eye splice in some 1/4 inch double braid I had on the boat.  Figured I would see if I could manage it before I ordered new line for the spinnaker.  Armed with the couple Youtube videos I had watched and the instructions from Samson, I added an eye splice to the end of my line.  I think it turned out really well for a first attempt.  Seems to be a very solid splice even without the locking stitching that everyone seems to recommend.  What do you think...

I'm betting if I can do it with the 1/4 inch line, the larger line should be even easier to complete.


  1. Very impressed. This is a skill I have on my list to learn. Looks like you have it down pretty good.

    Fair winds,


    1. Thanks Jesse. It isn't all that difficult, the hardest part was deciphering some of the instructions. Any of the written or video instructions tell you to make at least 6 or 7 marks on the core and/or cover...and keeping those straight was the hardest part. Insert fid at mark T to mark which one was X again. ;-)

  2. Very nice work Mike! That eye splice looks professional. You're right about deciphering the video instructions. I'm usually a visual learner, but that was wearing me out watching it.

    Love the comment about magic electrons! :-) Let us know when you sort that one out.

    Keep 'em coming.


    1. Thanks Mike. Guess the test is if I can do it again when it really counts.

      As for the's the best theory I have right now. They go into the mast and just vanish without a trace. Will let you know what I find...when I find it.

  3. Here's another guide on splicing from New England Ropes.

    I have this one and the one from Sampson downloaded for reference for when I might need to do a splice and don't have reliable internet access (which seems to be frequently in recent months).