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Old 27-10-2012, 20:47   #1
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Refit for BW cruising

Based on the possibly flawed assumption that it may be more economical to refit a vessel for blue-water cruising than to purchase a defined 'cruiser', I have two questions:

1) Are there any guides / resources that may be helpful as a starting point or to make sure things are no overlooked? (This could be really general such as strengthening the standing rigging).

2) Potential pitfalls of doing a refit on a vessel not suited originally to offshore cruising.

Notes: We have sailed this vessel in 35 knots, 4-5 foot swells with little difficulty. Sea-worthiness has been tested in addition to storage space etc . . . . I believe she covers the basic requirements for an offshore vessel. A refit would be done simply to assure the skipper that it is not the elements which will cause a failure, but the skipper himself.
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Old 28-10-2012, 00:33   #2
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

Assume you mean adding cruising gear to your existing Columbia or buying another boat supposedly cruising equipped. Biggest question is do you like the Columbia and do you feel comfortable taking it offshore?? Have you been out in snotty conditions and how did the boat do, hull flex, etc?? In short, that's a question of a devil you know against one that you don't.

Figure what you think you'll need to go cruising. Fire up the trusty spread sheet and list the items and then get out the West Marine Catalogue and put down the prices. Do a sum command. After you get up off the floor, start cutting back to the essentials and/or hitting Ebay and Craig's List for used gear. Look at supposedly well equipped cruising boats and carefully go through the equipment list to determine if you need all the gear listed or are they lacking in things you think are essential. Is the asking price inline with the equipment?? Keep in mind that with electronics, if it's more than 4 years old its far over the hill and probably not worth fixing if it breaks.

FWIW, even though I'm an experienced cruiser, bought my current boar because it had a bunch of gear I thought I really wanted. Ended up Ebaying much of that gear and buying what I really needed. Whatever you do, you'll spend a lot more money than you expected.
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Old 28-10-2012, 16:18   #3
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

We've taken her out in various conditions ranging from light air to a freshening gale (25-30 knots steady) and I am sold as to her sea-worthiness compared to the other vessels I have been on.

I guess to refine my question with an example:

Is there a go-to guide for determining the correct shroud diameter for offshore cruising? Columbia does make beefy boats but I am at a loss as to where to find specs for much of the equipment recommended.
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Old 28-10-2012, 16:42   #4
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

Increasing wire size is almost always a waste of money and more weigh aloft. The engineers have a really good handle on the stresses involved in a rig and plan in generous safety margins. Personally, I'd stick with the wire size it came with or, if you have to, go up one wire size.

Almost all masts are lost because of a swage or chainplate failure. All bronze turnbuckles will go forever so usually are almost never an issue. SS ones are another story and should be dye checked and replaced if there is any cracking. Chainplates suffer crevice corrosion usually where they pass through the deck. Only way to know is to remove the plates, inspect carefully and dye check them. Assuming your boat is at least 20 years old. If that's the case, I'd just replace them. You can buy 316SS plate cut to the proper width and length and take the material to a machine shop and have them drill and polish them using the old ones as a pattern. You can do it yourself with a drill press but the polishing is a pain. Electro polishing them is the best way. The reason they should be polished is it removes micro cracks in the metal that could develop into crevice down the line.

I'd re-rig with Norseman/StaLok terminals and do the work yourself. It's really simple with a cheap grinder and carefully following the instructions. Should be able to easily do it in a day. Cost will be about the same as hiring a rigger to do it with swages.

You will probably have way too much money in the boat by the time you've got her the way you want her. A boat is an investment in your pleasure and that's the return on your investment.
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Old 28-10-2012, 17:17   #5
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

I would never attempt to refit a non-BW boat boat in an attempt to make it a BW one. Not to say 'do not do it'.

To me, the core of a BW boat are the quality and soundness of her core elements: the hull, the hull-deck joint, the frame (or whatever gives support to the mast and rigging, then the rudder, the keel and the way these core elements are merged into one BW object. Then also I would value the design as high as the quality of the boat - how the cockpit is designed, how the deck is laid out, how the hull takes to blue water, etc..

So, IMHO, some older, quality BW boats can be, at a cost (not always justifiable, but then again so what) brought back to BW condition. A non-BW boat remains a non-BW boat no matter what.

Not to say one needs a BW boat to go anywhere - kayaks have crossed oceans too. Just by making it once, they did not suddenly become BW things.

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Old 28-10-2012, 17:20   #6
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

OK, so I'll be the devils advocate here.

26' of anything is small to leave sheltered water with. We're talking 1978 fibreglass here. At some point it's going to come to the end of it's duty cycle and you'll get structural failure. You can replace chain plates and rigging to your hearts content and you'll still have 35 year old fibreglass holding it all together.

It's not just 35 knots. Think 35 knots, wind against current for weeks on end. You really think that 35 year old fibreglass is going to keep the keel firmly connected to the rigging? And there's all those other bits...

To give you an idea of what can go wrong have a read of this article. He wouldn't have had 40 knot winds either.

The Columbia 7.6's look to be prized boats that sell well, but I don't think they were ever designed to go offshore.

For what it would cost you to refit to "blue water "standards you could probably sell and buy a more suitable boat.
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Old 28-10-2012, 18:01   #7
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjsut View Post
(...) Is there a go-to guide for determining the correct shroud diameter for offshore cruising?(...)
I think shroud diameter is related to boat displacement / righting moment, not to the kind of cruising she does.

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Old 28-10-2012, 18:06   #8
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjsut View Post
Based on the possibly flawed assumption that it may be more economical to refit a vessel for blue-water cruising than to purchase a defined 'cruiser', I have two questions:

1) Are there any guides / resources that may be helpful as a starting point or to make sure things are no overlooked? (This could be really general such as strengthening the standing rigging).

2) Potential pitfalls of doing a refit on a vessel not suited originally to offshore cruising.

Notes: We have sailed this vessel in 35 knots, 4-5 foot swells with little difficulty. Sea-worthiness has been tested in addition to storage space etc . . . . I believe she covers the basic requirements for an offshore vessel. A refit would be done simply to assure the skipper that it is not the elements which will cause a failure, but the skipper himself.
COLUMBIA 7.6 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com

At 4500lbs displacement and 25 feet or so your boat is somewhat similar to mine.

MAXI 77 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com

I feel my boat is a capable weekender and short passage maker. Could she cross an ocean - I would say yes but I wouldn't want to do it. Your comfort level may vary.

Like you I have been in crap conditions up to 40kts. The boat handles it well and I believe her to be strong and well built. Here are areas where I think my boat has shortfalls, you can compare in yours.

Rig
- Chain plates - Basically u-bolts, tied with rods through the deck to the hull. I'd like to see traditional "strap" chain plates tied into the hull
- Wire size not a concern, maybe go up one size
- Deck stepped mast - not a deal breaker but I prefer a stick that goes all the way to the keel
- Three reefs in the main (good), large furling genny (good) - No real provision are capability for a storm sail on the baby stay (bad)

Cockpit

- Not very dry
- Small drains (very bad)
- Simple tiller steering (good)
- Not a fan of transom mounted rudder

Space

- There are things I would bring along on long passages that one runs out of space for
- Raft?
- Dinghy?
- Warps, drogues, storm gear
- Ground tackle - 2nd or 3rd anchor?
- extra and/or spare sails
- Fuel and water tankage
- Electronic gear - You can get by with less but SSB, VHF, Plotter, proper nav station, radar(?)
- tools and repair equipment as well as spares

This is just a partial brain dump. Don't get me wrong I have done up to 5 days on my boat and it is like camping. I couldn't imagine a 20-30 day passage, especially with 2 and heaven forbid more on board.

My boat was built for Swedish waters - She is great and will always take care of me. However I just don't think it is enough boat for ocean passages in any reasonable comfort.

PS - Caveat... If you're definition of off-shore cruising is FL to Bahamas and Island hopping I think your boat is suitable. 24-36 hour passages should be no problem.
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Old 28-10-2012, 18:40   #9
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

If your boat Is a Columbia 7.6 then I would NOT.

You have only 33% ballast hanging only 3.5' below the waterline, tall topsides, unsupported rudder foil, etc.. She does not look very BW to me. A regular ocean wave, when it breaks, could bring havoc. At times waves are bigger than regular, there are too many of them and they will break on regular basis.

I respect your determination though.

How very BW do you want to be? All the way?

Our boat here nearly the same size but differently built. Took us places. I am not 100% sure I would go to the same places in the same boat, if I knew what we were in for.

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Old 31-10-2012, 10:33   #10
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

Thanks for the input, warnings and advice.

I've sailed a number of full-keel and fin-keel boats various distances and find the hull shape of the C7.6 a worthy trade-off. I completely agree that a breaking wave would worry me due to the high freeboard and shallow ballast.

(Additional similar keel configurations seem very rare, if anyone has further makes / models that would be of great interest)

As to the extent of 'How Blue' I want to go:

We have plans to cruise the Caribbean for up to 6 months island hopping - majority of cruises would be under a week.

The hull has been inspected as well as the deck fittings. However, I would not trust her in a gale until I replace the standing rigging.

An additional thought would be to add ballast to the keel. Is this advisable or will it result in the possibility of increased stress on the rigging and other displacement concerns?
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Old 31-10-2012, 10:49   #11
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

It's all about the original design/build of your boat, your comfort level, and the condition. If the rig was designed properly, you dont need larger rigging, just new rigging. Bolt on keel? replace the keel bolts. Spade rudder? remove , inspect and replace bushings etc. (is the size of the shaft offshore worthy?) You might be throwing money into something you cant get it back out of though. Put that money into a more respected hull. Just doing the Carribean? then just make sure everything is good.
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Old 31-10-2012, 11:25   #12
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

I believe there is a relationship between the amount of ballast and the forces on the rigging. It they were to become higher than designed in, one would upgrade not just the wires but also all adjacent hardware, to the same extent. When forces change, requirements on the extrusion, fittings, etc. change too.

Another outcome will be more ballast will make the hull sit deeper, sail slower and have less cargo carrying capacity.

If you are going only to the West Indies (from the US, I guess) then I believe the major obstacle is getting there as sailing in between the islands can be to some extent adjusted to the boat's capabilities (one can at least try to avoid sailing on the more windy, more choppy, days).

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Old 31-10-2012, 11:42   #13
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

Of any potential BW vessel I ask two main questions:

1. what's the angle of diminishing righting moment? At what point does it NOT want to return to upright but continue on to turtle?

2. How does it behave when hove to? In 30-50mph and 10-20 foot seas?

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Old 31-10-2012, 12:06   #14
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Re: Refit for BW cruising

These are valid questions.

I would add that in any small and low on ballast boat the actual AVS will be dramatically influenced by the fact that the cargo/light ship ratio is so much disturbed (as compared with a bigger boat). My feeling is that in a small boat the AVS is never enough ...

My other observation is that once the seas build up, for a small boat, it may turn out to be extremely dangerous to lay hove to. Simply, once the seas build up enough, one WILL get caught out and wiped out, capsized or rolled over.

Perhaps with plenty of pre-study and sticking to very conservative choice of wx windows the risk of getting caught out in the passage from the US to Carib can be to some extent mitigated?

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