Sailing can mean comfort

Our friends on R.E.D. were not necessarily the first people to show us sailing can be more of a pleasurable lifestyle than a simple afternoon activity, but they’ve been one of the most persistent and creative.

One of the changes they turned us on to was the Froli under-cushion system:

Upon a visit to R.E.D. in 2015, their MacGregor 26M, this mod was one of many they showed off.  I noted it, but it would take a season of sleeping on the stock cushion for me to move this particular experimentation up a few notches on the mod queue.

Perhaps as a result of our physical weight (we were heavier a year ago) and perhaps because of cushion quality, it quickly became apparent the stock cushion was easily compressed.  This led to shoulder compression and stiffness in all the wrong places after a good night’s sleep.

The Froli kit adds a type of rubberized plastic box spring as a layer underneath the stock cushion that turns out to be fantastic for that extra “give” a body needs when sleeping on one’s side, and for one’s hips in any position.

As you can see from the opening shot, it isn’t cheap (when is anything inexpensive where boats are concerned?), but I’m here to tell ya it works very well.  I just completed my second night on board for the 2016 season (yeah, I know, it’s July 4th and I’ve only slept on board twice; I’m sad about that too), and it was easily the equivalent of my box spring at home – better in fact, since the hand of a gentle God tends to avoid rocking me to sleep at home.

When I received the three boxes, I concluded they must think I have a huge V- berth.  After snapping the kit together, I can say with assurance Froli provides a generous helping of their product.  I quickly realized there was enough extra that I might be able to put the system in one or two other areas of the boat.

Left overs.  Mmm.  Delicious!

(The box was actually much more full than this, but the marina wifi yacked up a furball part of the way through the upload.  I needed to take a second picture, but I was part way through the salon cushion mod.  Oh, bother.  It’s always something)

Now, I freely admit I took a shortcut to save on some components.  For example, the little red tension clips were definitely not needed in the V- berth for the level of comfort we were seeking (your mileage may vary).  However, if I use the remaining parts under one or more of the salon table seat cushions (the most likely course of action), the tension clips will likely prove invaluable for creating just the right layer of stiffness for my derriere (one of the few words of French I still remember after 3 years of classes in my teens.  Madame Frederick would be so ashamed if she knew, so no one tell her, okay?  She tried.  She really really tried).

Another example can be seen in this base shot.  As I was assembling the base (yeah, in this shot it was upside down;  I figured that out eventually), I realized it wasn’t necessary to use the smaller half pieces and rectangular pieces (which you’ll see in a future picture) out to the edge.  The cushions were plenty stable without that level of detail, and that left more (and probably necessary) parts for use on the salon cushions.  It’s like getting a three cushion kit for the price of one!

The rest of the construction was quick.  I believe from start to finish it took me less than two hours to haul the material to the boat, concoct a cunning little plan for the build, build, realize I messed up my cunning little plan and re-build, and then enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Here are some additional shots of the construction:

This is what it looks like with the spring elements installed.  Note the dark blue and light blue spring elements.  The dark blue are stiffer.  The light blue are softer.  There are fewer of them in the kit, and they are designed for the shoulder area.

Notice that with the system in place, the cushion is not raised much higher then it’s stock position. My initial fear that this system would cause the cushion to sit so high it would interfere with V- berth height proved to be completely unfounded.

And a final shot showing the system in relation to one of the cushions.

I can definitely endorse the quality of the materials associated with this product, the well-written directions (that I somehow couldn’t follow the first time), the generous amount of product provided (at least where our class of boat is concerned – MacGregor 26M/Tattoo 26) and the actual function of the product – as in, does it do what it claims to do.  

I give it an A+ across the board.

PS:  As I Indicated, I was going to try using some of the extra on other seats in the cabin.  I actually managed to use almost every remaining piece.

Below is the aft salon seat:

The forward salon seat:

Finally, the seat across from the aft salon seat, aft of the galley.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.  Happy sailing!

Lance M. Gundersen, Sr., co-captain (odd days), SV Do We 797.124

Blue Water Yachts Furler Pin

Here’s a small little boat project that makes me feel a lot more relaxed about the jib.

Blue Water Yachts came up with a much better Furler Pin than the stock pin.


With a very slight modification to the U-clamp on the furler drum (drilled it out slightly wider than the shank on the new pin – 1/4″), I have a much more robust connection that is easier to grip during installation.


The furler pins are one of apparently many items that do not seem to be on the BWY website, but, if you ask them on the phone, they have them in stock.


The End of the Beginning

Trial Run

There is a joke that says there are two happy days in a boater’s life.  The first is the day he gets the boat.  The second is the day he gets rid of the boat.  Well, unless something unexpected occurs, today is the day we get rid of our first sailboat, Trial Run, and move on (move up?) to she-who-has-not-yet-been-named – a 26 foot Tattoo (ne MacGregor) power sailor.  I can’t say I’m overly happy about it though.  The Catalina Capri 22 we named Trial Run (because, well, that’s what it was), is a good little ship.  Someone else will be doing themselves a favor by buying it.  Parting in this case truly is sweet sorrow.  I wish it could have worked out, but there were too many challenges and one basic requirement that could never be met.

Why the change?  By far the biggest is that the 22-footer is simply too small to utilize effectively in the role we initially envisioned.  We wanted to sail, but we also wanted a boat that could be comfortably – and that’s really the key word: comfortably – lived aboard.  The 22 cannot meet that goal for two people (and, more often than not, a medium sized dog), especially when those people are (let’s be honest here) not small.

The other reason were the repairs.  Trial Run, if she ever gets a new master, needs about $5000 in overhaul.  If she gets that, she’ll be awesome.  Engine repairs, a replacement engine mount wrenched into scrap by a doofus drunk power boater, minor gel coat repairs, a replacement mast foot and some probably minor mast repairs, a replacement jib furler, a new battery and the installation of a depth sensor.  It made no sense for us to sink money into those repairs when the issue of utilizing the boat as a live-aboard remained insurmountable.  Best to just ply that money into a down payment on something new, something eminently trailer-able, and something with a solution to the one REALLY annoying factor of our Catalina Capri – a logical, simple, easy and fast mast raising system (what were you thinking, Catalina?!)

Tattoo 26

The choice of the Tattoo (formerly MacGregor) 26 was logical based on cost (under $40,000), weight (under 3000 lbs) and its ability to be used as a comfortable live-aboard thus expanding our time enjoying the lake.  Weight was a huge issue.  Barb’s Nissan Frontier is aging and we are not in a position at present to buy a larger truck (and would have no place to park it if we did – our house is around 650 square feet which is really small by today’s standards, and the driveway can fit two small cars in the winter and that’s it.

So, given the limitations on driveway space, desire to have a boat big enough to live on, but still portable, and a decent mast raising system, plugging all of these factors into the equation resulted in.. an incredibly small list of trailer-able boats at the top of which were the MacGregor trailer sailor models.  We soon discovered MacGregor was out of business, the owner having retired due to age, and that his daughter and her husband had bought the company and relocated it to Florida, as well as renamed it “Tattoo,” and that not referring to skin tats but to the Scottish massed bands with drums and bagpipes.

A dock neighbor at Northampton has a MacGregor 26 (not sure which model letter) and loves it.  While we spent days and days of our summer in 2014 fighting with a roller furler issue, he was gliding over the water having a good ol time.  He’s up at the marina almost every weekend enjoying himself day in and day out, where we have to either go home or camp at Northampton State Park.  To us, it seems he’s got the better idea.  If it works for him…

So today, Lord willing, a new chapter opens.  We’ll head to Saratoga and take possession (it’ll actually stay up there for the winter so ‘take possession’ is somewhat of a misnomer), take a pile of measurements, continue to dream build the changes we want to make to it (ah, personalization), work up the cash and rev up the power tools.  With a small amount of luck, we should have a comfortable home away from home in a few months, and something to more reasonably study our long term dream of sailing away into the sunset.

Clearing My Head

Barb has done a bunch of posts.  Now it’s my turn.

One of the reasons I wanted to re-learn how to sail was because, at Scout Camp those many many years ago, sailing the sunfish class sailboats they had at Woodworth Lake gave me time on the water to relax and commune with nature, as it were.











Because of some stresses in my life right now, I decided to take a mental health few hours and head up to the lake for my second single-handing of the boat under sail  (the first time with actual wind though) and just relax for a bit.

Picture of Trial Run – but not today:












I couldn’t be happier at the outcome – both because of the quality of the sailing and the peace brought on by the thinking/relaxing.

I used the single hand undocking method first explained to us by Dave Gibson, and later reinforced in a video I found on YouTube.  Other than a minor (annoying) issue of the safety ring line snagging on one of the dock cleats (Why now?  Why this time?) everything was smooth.

One different part of this trip was the addition of a new ‘sail track stop’ to the mast, to prevent the need to constantly  re-install the sail slugs

Picture of the sail track stop:

Sail Track Stop Round








Picture of the sail slug, also known as a sail slide:

sail slide











I have a hunch this piece was just missing from the boat when we bought it because, after installing it, I noted that the sail cover now fit perfectly, and the change in my ability to single-hand the boat was remarkable.

At any rate, I quickly raised the mainsail, found the wind to be excellent, turned off the engine, deployed the jib and I was sailing on a close reach heading north toward the Northville bridge.  About four hours in all.  Here’s an approximation of the course I sailed:












I had the good fortune on this journey to sail in formation with another boat (Dulcinea, out of Northville – sail number T320 – does that make it a Tanzer?).  It was here I realized – perhaps just caught a glimpse of – just how fast the Capri 22 can be.  While the wind was light on a broad reach heading southwest down from Northville I was still overtaking Dulcinea, but very very slowly.  When the wind picked up, I left Dulcinea standing still – and they were trying to catch up.

We actually played this formation game twice.  On the second time around, they started heading back toward the area of Northampton Marina, which put us on a close reach.  I was happy, while on a relatively slow and even keel broad reach to crack open the one and only brewskie I brought with me.  When we changed course, I just wasn’t thinking about the increase in speed.  Trial Run lept forward, heeled over sharply to port – the gunwale right at the water’s edge!  Exhilarating! – and I suddenly found myself with the conundrum of a 3/4 full open can of beer and a real need to have two hands to control the boat.  I tried putting the beer between my legs, but all I succeeded in doing was first spilling it on my crotch, and then having the can land face down on the bottom of the boat.  Is that alcohol abuse?  I’m thinking it is.

spilled beer can











After recovering from that fiasco, I decided it was time to ride these good air currents down the channel and out on the main lake to play with some other sailboats.  I did, but there wasn’t anyone out to play.  I did spy a few sails far far in the distance, but it would have been too far to travel without making it home in the dark.  I would prefer to not travel in the dark just yet.  At least, not alone.  Yeah, I’m scared.

Once I realized there was no one to play with, and I saw the long angle of the sun, I decided to head back.  De-rigging the boat was a breeze with that sail stop in place, and mooring the one-handed way once again worked like a champ.

And the issues?  Did they work themselves out too?  Fresh air, sunshine and light wind can’t solve problems.  A little bit of prayer and thanksgiving doesn’t solve them either.  But, they did relax my mind so that maybe I’ll be more receptive to solutions when they present themselves.



Trial Run

What’s in a name? Rose by any other….

Truth is she is our learning boat. The trial run of a weekend hobby. The trial run of the cost of owning a boat. The trial run at co-existing in a small space. The trial run of our sea legs. The trial run for Sampson.

We made a conscious decision to start small and, relatively, inexpensive. We have friends with a 35′ boat on the lake and it has the wheel instead of tiller. Lance wants the tiller, and I want the more expansive living space, but why invest big when we don’t know if we will like this? The idea is delightful, but what is the reality? Do we want a loan payment equal to a mortgage for a pleasure passtime we can enjoy for only 4 months of the year (and every other weekend at that)? Can we afford a slip for a larger boat with fees for Internet and electricity? Do we want the maintenance of a diesel engine, marine toilet and shower? Could we trailer something bigger or do we have to pay a marina for winter storage as well as a summer berth?

After spending the winter buying all sorts of do-dads, renting a slip for the season, and having lived aboard a 32′ Beneteau for a week on vacation, I think we made a good decision by starting small. We have neither the time or finances to support a larger boat right now – especially with the repairs we’ve racked up on a ” ready-to-go” boat; our doing, not the seller’s.

Next, we need an official christening ceremony because we’ve been stuck at the dock dealing with issues since we slid her off the trailer. Stay tuned for those adventures.

Sailing the great green sea…

As I mentioned in the last post, we didn’t know how to sail. But, over Labor Day 2012 weekend we became experts at “sailing” in the backyard.


Anyone who has a boat knows that it is more maintenance than sea time. So we decided last fall that we first needed to check her out, bow to stern. First, order of business, how do we raise the mast. YouTube was a big help, but in the end we need to construct a gin pole to provide stability and leverage to haul a 20 foot pole in the air.


There were a number of ‘trial runs’ with this device, both in design and use. Ultimately we learned, that in this case, faster was better.

Then the next issue; the jib furler. No matter what we did we could not attach it to the bow. And we were pretty sure that this arrangement was a BAD idea.
20120820_153447 We eventually got it. The trick here, one we’ve not yet forgotten (but I’m writing it here as a “note to self”), loosen the backstay. Now that sounds foolhardy, after all its the one thing exhibiting any control over this drunken metal pole that we have NO ability to hang on to or control. (This is where cranking fast comes into play). It is the only way to ease the tension enough for the jib furler to attach to the bow is by giving it enough lead to be pulled down. THEN you tighten the backstay again.

Even after accomplishing this feat over 6 days and 4 weeks, we agreed that the Great Sacandaga Reservior was already WAAAY too low for newbies to venture upon without training.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Sacandaga Lake is a reservior that was constructed in the 1920’s to regulated the flow of the Hudson River to prevent the flooding of New York City. Spring runoff and rains rush down and fill up the lake in May and slowly over the summer the water is out. How much water is left after Labor Day changes year to year. – some recent and historic images – maps and plans of the proposed river valley and project

The real issue, however, is the lake bottom. The Sacandaga was originally a valley, full of farms, villages, houses, and trees. Buildings were moved, as were cemeteries, but a lot of the infrastructure, especially rock walls and foundations were left in place. When the lake is let out, some of those features become visible. More dangerous, though, are the things you can’t see. I remember a story told by a friend, of another friend, who sailed out from the public launch at Northampton beach with no issue, when when he motored back in he went through a doorway opening and got stuck inside a foundation.

It was best we stayed home until we knew more. So, we buttoned her up for the winter and spent the time thinking, ordering stuff we needed, and signing up for sailing lessons we so would be ready come May to start our on-water adventure.

Stay tuned…

Where we started…

Today is June 20, 2013 and there is some catching up to do before we can talk about the present day.

I know when the idea of adding a sailboat to our lives became a serious idea, but I’m not sure when the dream of it started.  We’d both learned to sail Sunfish in Scouts.  Later, Lance chose the “low” seas of submarine service in the Navy while Barb watched the sun set over Lake Ontario from her dorm room.  Scuba diving was next, 2006 for Barb and 2009 for Lance.  I’m guessing it became a future dream around the time this picture was taken; back in our skinny days.

2012-05-05 00.44.09

But family obligations and financial hurdles had to be met first, so it remained an oft talked about day-dream.  A what if. A retirement plan. A boat show visit. An Internet search.  Until last spring. For whatever crazy reason, logic was thrown aside by both of us and we started shopping, real shopping. The kind where you call marinas, schedule visits, talk to brokers, stop by the side of the road to get out and look at “For Sale By Owner” models.  And we agreed after a few whirlwind days that it was scary and still too expensive.  Then August happened.  It think it was another Internet window shopping experience on CraigList when Lance found her.  “Repose” was her name then, not that we knew that.  She was located 15 minutes from Lance’s employer. She was beautiful.  Neat. Clean. Looked new. Came with a trailer. And an outboard.  Ready to sail.


So we girded our loins and took the plunge.  Then the only problem was, we don’t know how to sail…