Monday 23 July 2012

Americas Cup AC72 Catamaran Launch in Auckland New Zealand

With much fanfare and palpable excitement the Emirates Team New Zealand 
Americas Cup AC72 catamaran has been launched at the Viaduct Basin in downtown Auckland.

These new machines are massive beasts and absolutely dwarf the AC45 cats
the teams have been racing in the World Series up until now.

AC72 Official Launch - Auckland
The skills learned under racing conditions on the smaller vessels will now be tested to the max on the huge AC72 and I would suspect that all crews will be approaching the challenge with a strong mixture of excitement and trepidation. It will be like going to a whole new level (when you compare the size difference) of skillset and no doubt a scary proposition for every crew member.

The speed alone is something that will take time to adjust to and then the height the outside sponson will be above the water in the event of a capsize. A crew member hanging on and looking down with the prospect of falling, will be dangling almost 50ft above the water! a position every crew will be praying that they never find themselves in....?  
Size comparison Artemis AC45 and AC72
The video also gives an impression of the size of the AC72 as you walk around the hull - note all the various lifting and placement equipment - the crew are involved in a very complex and delicate task getting the huge wing up and the boat rigged, ready to go splash - which she does shortly after.

For the more technical of you, cast your eye over the spec. chart below to get an idea of the difference in size of the two classes of boats.
Specification chart comparison AC45 and AC72
When one considers the funding required to keep these challenges afloat (excuse the pun), it becomes blatantly obvious that none would survive if it weren't for the wide range of sponsors that support them. Emirates Team New Zealand have added one or two more in recent times and I am sure the other teams have a similar need.

With the launch of these amazing vessels the stage is now set to witness probably the most spectacular Americas Cup ever, with many rounds to go yet before reaching the final races in San Franscisco in July 2013 - watch this space. 

You can read more about racing around the cans in a much more modest fashion whilst cruising, in my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise', downloadable from my website

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Sailboat Varnish Brightwork Maintenance that Glows

Varnishing your brightwork on your boat can be a time consuming affair, especially if you have let it go too long and deep sanding becomes necessary. So, as in all things, frequency is the key and you will find you can quite easily keep on top of it. You can varnish at sea on calm days when there is no spray flying, idle hours in a foreign port put to good use and of course the annual spruce up will undoubtedly include some varnishing in the programme.

As  the following article explains there is nothing more satisfying than examining your handiwork on completion of that deep burnished glow of freshly varnished timber (teak or otherwise) that helps to keep your vessel looking in top shipshape fashion.

Reflections in the Glowing Varnish Work 
'Varnishing wood on a boat is relaxing and rewarding. The look and feel of nicely varnished teak or mahogany enhances the appearance of any boat, even if it only has a little bit of wood. Keeping wood varnished is also an excellent way to make it easier to clean and to preserve it over many years.
Varnish will preserve marine woodwork in the condition it was in the day it was varnished. That means any blemish, residual stain, or dirt left on the wood will be preserved forever, so it is important that the wood be properly sanded and cleaned before varnish is applied.

Old varnish that cannot be recoated must be completely removed. I use a chemical stripper or a heat gun to remove it, then sand. If you leave the old varnish, it will look bright yellow underneath the new varnish, so be very thorough when removing old varnish.

If you are just recoating existing varnish, clean thoroughly and sand lightly with fine sandpaper. When building up coats of varnish, keep sanding to a minimum and use 220 sandpaper or higher. Always keep the varnish area as free of dust as possible. Each speck of dust that finds its way into wet varnish seems to turn into a boulder when the varnish has dried, and you cannot sand it out without losing the entire coat of varnish in that area.

Varnishing Over Oil

Contrary to what you may hear, you can apply varnish to wood that has previously been treated with oil. One of the main ingredients of varnish is oil, so the idea that varnish and oil are incompatible is obviously false. There are other chemicals involved, so it is a good idea to test your particular combination of oil and varnish on an unobtrusive spot to verify that there will be no problem with the varnish sticking and curing properly.

The only problem I have encountered when varnishing wood that was previously oiled is that oiled wood tends to gather dirt and dust and also tends to clog sandpaper. I like to give oiled wood a good cleaning with a scrub brush and some Dawn dishwashing detergent before attempting to sand it.

Choosing Your Brushes for Varnishing

I have used all kinds of brushes to apply varnish. I have learned the hard way why a good varnish brush costs more money: it's worth it. I have also learned that I can do pretty darn well with disposable foam brushes, so I use those. If you keep them well soaked and move slowly along the grain of the wood, the varnish flows on nice and smooth with few bubbles.

High-quality brushes for varnishing are more expensive, but do a much better job than the cheap brushes. The less-expensive disposable foam brushes also work very well.

If bubbles form while the varnish is wet, you can usually just blow on them and they will usually pop and even out as the varnish dries.

One of the reasons it is not a good idea to varnish in direct sunlight is that wood that is being heated will expel a little bit of air, which encourages bubbles to form as the varnish dries. Such a bubble is just like letting a piece of dust settle in wet varnish: it can't be removed without losing the whole coat of varnish in that area. It must be completely sanded out, or it will always be visible. If you must varnish in direct sunlight, do it late in the day when the wood is cooling off and drawing in air, and use some thinner to make the varnish flow more easily in the heat.

Applying the Varnish

Varnish should be applied in a smooth film, brushing from the dry area into the wet edge and then gently and evenly lifting the brush. Dragging a corner of the brush or allowing a drip of varnish to fall as you lift the brush are common mistakes, and avoiding them just takes practice. Try to learn on an unobtrusive area, and have a plan to complete the entire job while maintaining a wet edge. If it is not possible to maintain a wet edge, plan to make the "seam" where varnish coats meet occur along edges so it will not stand out.

Grab Rails Glowing
Sanding between coats should only be done with extra fine sandpaper, and only very gently. Some people do not sand at all between coats, but just wipe down the previous coat with laquer thinner. Varnish will stick without sanding, but you can get a smoother finish with a light sanding.

It is critical that the wood be properly cleaned after sanding before applying more varnish. I use a minimum of 3 coats of varnish for interior marine woodwork, and at least 5 coats for exterior wood. Because the first thing to break down in the sunlight is the UV protection included in good quality marine varnish, look for a varnish with a high percentage of UV resistant additives. In the tropical sun, expect to recoat unprotected wood at least once per year.

Adding Non-Skid to Your Varnish

For special applications such as cockpit grates and cabin soles, the more durable two-part varnishes are a good choice. To add a little traction, I sprinkle a little sand over the second-to-last coat after it is applied, or just mix it with the varnish. Let it cure thoroughly, wipe down with solvent, and apply the final coat over the sand. It makes a good non-skid surface as long as the sand lasts, but does need recoating once it is worn down enough that the sand starts to come off.

A good varnish job requires careful preparation and meticulous technique, but for those of us who love the look of finely varnished wood on a boat, the reward of removing the tape and seeing perfectly finished wood makes all the time spent worthwhile'.

Article and image courtesy and images courtesy 

You can read much more about day to day and general maintenance when cruising, in my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise', downloadable from my website