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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8/31/2010 - Ratlines revisited

It was a beautiful day in Charleston today. By the time I crawled out of bed at 9:30 the fog had lifted and the sun was shining. It was even warm-ish. Might have even been a good day to get underway but we didn't. We're still getting used to being back on the boat. Have to remember where everything is again. Decided we'd take care of chores first and still plan on maybe shoving off on Thursday.

Today, I finished redoing the ratlines on the starboard side. Not sure if I wrote about it earlier but the ratlines have been bothering me. You may remember that the way I attached them to the shrouds was basically to clamp them in place using a nut and bolt on each side of the shroud. Worked great but it left these 2" pieces of wood sticking out on each side beyond the shroud. This meant there were 32 possible places for lines to hang up on or sails to chafe against. I kind of knew this but was in a bit of denial until Steve Webster at Riverbend Boatyard in Newport said it out loud. I knew I had to change the setup.

I pulled out my trusty "The Rigger's Locker" by Brion Toss and studied how he said to do it. I didn't follow his suggestion to use 2 rope ratlines for every 1 wooden one since I prefer all wood rungs and since they were basically all built already. I took down all the ratlines and took them with me when I headed back to Cody's house earlier this month.

What I had to do was to a.) glue both faces of each rung to its mate, b.) cut off the end of each rung bisecting the hole that went around the shroud so that I'd end up with a groove instead of a hole, and then c.) drill a hole parallel to the groove but 1-1/2" to 2" in from the end to take the lashings. Having use of my chop saw and Shopsmith made this project way easier than it would have been on the boat using hand tools.

Yesterday evening I mounted the first 2 rungs and today I completed the rest of the ones on the starboard side. The following photo shows how the rungs are lashed to the shrouds:

I hate those little knotted ends sticking out. Two of them will be eliminated along with the double constrictor knot they're attached to but there will always be one. Brion says to finish of the wraps with a couple of overhand knots, pulled very tight and then back that up with a figure eight to use as a stopper. He says to work the figure eight up tight against the overhand knot but, try as I might, I could never get it to snug up and stay put. The double constrictor knot was just something I added. I was having some trouble with the rungs wanting to slip a little when I really put force on them when tightening wraps on a higher rung while standing on a lower one. I was essentially pulling up with my arms while pushing down (on the rung) with my feet. It was almost inevitable that there'd be some slippage. So, I added a double constrictor knot around the shroud just below the wraps as a sort of collar to keep the rung from slipping down. It didn't work - the constrictor knot slipped as well. Tomorrow I'm going to get some good old fashioned friction tape and wrap the shroud where I'm going to make the lashing. Hopefully that will help. If this was galvanized rigging, I'd serve the entire length which would really help, and help the rigging last a long time, too. But stainless steel needs oxygen so service would be a bad idea.

I prefer this photo since it doesn't show the little knots:

The bolt is there just to reinforce the face-to-face glue joint and to keep the lashing from splitting the wood. In Brion's example he uses solid (not glued) wood but still uses a copper rivet to prevent splitting.

The ratlines are plenty tight and tough enough to support a person doing normal things aloft like navigating through coral heads or trying to spot a whale. But, as noted above, they are likely to slip when excess force is exerted on them. Consequently, it would be great if I could have installed them from the top down. But I didn't see any workable way to do that. As a result, I ended up redoing probably half of the lashings before I was all done. In this photo you can see that I still have one left to straighten up:

In case you can't tell, it's the aft end of the second one from the bottom. Needs to come up about 1/2".

But, just so you know that these "lash-ups" really can carry the load:

Until later, ta-ta from Charleston.

PS: Although I know it's unlikely that any of you would think that Lulu is just idling her time away while I'm working my fingers to the bone, I should mention what she did today. She spent the better part of the morning and part of the afternoon getting things stowed, cleaned, and squared away for our next leg of the trip. Then she got out the scrub brush, scraper and Simple Green and got to work on the ugly dirt and gunk we got when we were side-tied to B dock when we first got here. What a scrungy spot that was. We warped the boat across to the empty slip on our starboard side so she could clean the worst side of the boat easier.


Anonymous said...

On Satori, Ray Leonard used some type of black tar-like substance under the lashings. It did not seem to have any effect on the rigging when I took them down. Ken

Steve and Lulu said...

What was the consistency of the stuff when you removed the lashings? Had it sort of solidified? I've used a kind of tape (similar to the rescue tape sold at the boat shows but thicker) on large electrical connections in motors. It goes on as a stretchy tape but then fuses together into a rubber mass. How hard was it to remove the tar-like substance from your shrouds?


Anonymous said...

Cut about 3 feet of your lashing rope and break it down into strands to use as a winding material at the bottom of your lashing. Then fashion a pass under loop at the bottom with your two pig tail ends next to it and then wrap the whole thing tight from just below the board to just above the loop. Pass the end of the wrap through the loop end and pull it all back into the center of the wrap. Then take your sharp knife and cut the ends off next to the wraping. You end up with the ends hidden under a nice clean wraping. It is kind of like tying a fish hook on the old string leaders or even similar to making a hangmans noose.

Yes, Jay rode bulls, but typically for maximum 8 seconds or less before landing on his head or rear end, which is the idea of this weard sport. Maybe he liked landing on his head? He did it semi pro for most of his 20's but doesn't talk about it much today. I prefered motorcycles at full throttle across the desert with 50 other motorcycles chasing me. Yes we are both nuts.

It sounds like the two of you are in as good to go as you can get, so have a pleasant sail down to S.F. and on South. It will only get warmer as you move closer to Cabo so enjoy the cool winds now while you can.


Steve and Lulu said...


That's exactly how I do a temporary whipping on the end of a line. I'll have to give it a try to dress up my lashings.


Anonymous said...

Steve, it was still soft under the lashings. It was not the rubberized tape but that might do the trick. The wire underneath was pristine. It was very hard to remove. I tried to remove one and just left them in place. It looked like it penetrated between the strands of wire. Ken