Friday, December 30, 2011

Wintertime Reading

When the cold north winds blow, it is a perfect time to cuddle up by the fire with a good book.  And what better to read than sailing books.  Mike and I have become voracious readers.  We download free books on our Kindle, we order books from the library, and Mike scours the ½ price bookstore for the next sailing adventure or how-to book.  Over the last few years we have probably read 100 sailing related books.  

One of my favorites was The Embarassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof.  


It is a delightful book about a couple’s adventures around the world on their sailboat.  But the unique appeal to this book is the way this couple, and in particular, Ann,  were able to learn about and become a part of the various villages they visited.  Through her love of cooking, Ann was able to make connections with people in a way that saw her invited into the homes and kitchens of women around the globe.  Friendships and bonds were formed that continue to grow.  Along with the adventures she and her husband experienced,  Ann also  includes recipes from kitchens she visited, as well as tips on how to prepare and use the local ingredients.   There is a sequel, Spice Necklace, and Ann has a website at

Check back to Wrinkles in Our Sails soon.  We will be adding a book review page and our opinions on many, many books. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Do Sailors Do When They Can't Sail?

September 2011.  What do sailors do when they can’t sail?  They dream about sailing. Storms were projected for later this afternoon and all day Sunday, so we jumped in the car and headed to Waukegan, IL to look at a Pacific Seacraft Dana that is for sale.  We have no intention of buying right now, and told the salesman that, but even so he was willing to take us out so we could have a first hand look at one of the boats on our dream list.  It didn’t disappoint.  All pictures show a very roomy cabin for a 24 footer.  But what is roomy for someone who is 5’8 is way different for someone who is 6’3.  Much to our surprise, Mike was able to stand in the cabin without too much trouble!!!! Unheard of for him.  We checked in all the nooks and crannies, of which there were several, and pictured ourselves out on the open water. 

Start looking at potential boats - check.  One more baby step off of our to do list.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

Here in Wisconsin it looks like we won't be having a white Christmas.  We are well past enjoying winter and snow in general, but snow on the ground for Christmas is one of the special things about living in the north. 

Snow from 2010

This is what Christmas should look like.

We'll just pretend this is happening now.
Brenda has all her "ducklings" home as of midnight last night, so she is one happy mother.  As our kids grow up and start scattering around the country it will only become more and more difficult to get everyone together for Christmas day.  We will certainly celebrate and embrace this one.  To make it even more remarkable, Brenda's sister and her husband drove up from Alabama to spend the holidays with us.  I guess the lack of snow can be overlooked when we are lucky enough to get everyone together.

Have a happy, joyous and safe holiday season everyone.

Mike and Brenda

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Foiled Rudder Project

One of the few complaints you hear about earlier Com-Pac sailboats is the tendency to exhibit excess weather helm.  A number of Com-Pac owners have purchased the aftermarket IdaSailor foil rudder and reported extremely positive results.  Improved slow speed tacking, greatly reduced weather helm, a feeling of having "power steering", and some reports of improved pointing seems to justify the relatively high initial cost of this rudder system.
As a contributing member on the Com-Pac Yacht  Owners Association forum (CPYOA) I read a post about making an inexpensive foiled rudder out of the existing flat aluminum blade.  I love building/repairing things, so this project went right to the top of my to-do list.  I contacted the CPYOA member (Doug in Delavan, WI) with a request for a print out of the NACA foil outline which he quickly printed off and mailed out.  Time to hit the shop!
Some folks have laminated layers of wood onto the aluminum blade stock to build up enough thickness for the final shape.  I chose to use pink foam with just a leading edge made of a hardwood.  Both methods have worked well, so the choice of materials is just a matter of preference.  The process was quick and fairly easy to accomplish, although I don't believe I'll ever be a fan of working with fiberglass.

The finished product looked darn good for a first attempt, but the proof was in the initial sailing test.  WOW!  What a difference in the feel of the tiller.  Instead of a tight grip on the tiller with a constant pull, we could just lay a hand across the top and gently make corrections.  We used to switch off the helm every half hour or so due to arm/hand fatigue.  Now we needed to ask the each other to give up the stick.  Slow speed tacks were so much easier as the blade no longer acted as a big flat brake.  The term "power steering" came to be used to describe the new feeling in the foiled rudder boats.
Man I love it when a plan comes together and works better than expected or even hoped for.
Check out our Projects page if you are interested in more photos of the process along with some building tips.
Here is a link to the original forum discussion of foiled rudders on CPYOA:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's the next catch up post from the past:

August 26, 2009

The Admiral and I finally found time to re-introduce our 16 and ourselves to water under sail.  Teen children, work, and a new powerboat (sorry) have really crimped our sailing time this season.  We hadn't sailed in about "12 inches of weeds growing under our CP-16", so we were really excited to finally have an afternoon available to sail.  We arrived at the ramp and thought we did a pretty good job getting the boat rigged and in the water in about 30 minutes.  The trusty ol' 1952 Evinrude 3hp fired up and pushed us through some pretty good chop.  The forecast was for 12 mph winds so it looked perfect.  We killed the motor and tried to raise the main - ooops - caught in the shroud a couple of times.  Hmmmm, doesn't seem to be going up all the way.  I guess that wrapping the topping lift and the main halyard could be the problem.  OK, that is fixed.  Now we can sail.  Hmmm, the mainsheet seems a little short.   OOOOPS - rigged the old shortened sheet instead of the new full length one.  OK - we're sailing now!

155 Genoa

We really weren't expecting the waves to spray us in the cockpit at 12 mph.  The whitecaps seemed pretty strong for those winds too.  We checked later and the wind was 12-16 mps with stronger gusts.  The Admiral says this is fun.  We are sailing again!!!!

The skipper at the helm (notice the wrinkles in the sail)

I remember now how much we enjoy the sound of the water as we slice through it, moving under the power of the wind, and enjoying the time spent with the one you love doing something you both enjoy.  We're sailing again. 

Sailing on Lake Monona

Mike and Brenda

Friday, December 16, 2011

May 18, 2008 The Season Begins

We finally found a window of time to get Puppy Luff (CP-16) on the water for the first time this season. The weather in Madison, WI was 62 degrees with 5-10 mph winds. Not great for racing, but perfect for novices like us to get reacquainted with sailing. Last year we could get her ready to plop in the water in about 20 minutes without rushing. It took us closer to 45 minutes with some moments of "Hmmm, can't remember where that clip goes." Eventually we got her ready, plopped in the water and the ol '52 Evinrude started right up. (The wind was directly into the docks.) A few un-coordinated maneuvers later we where sailing away. The new (used) 155 genoa worked well in the low winds - didn't seem to help later in the afternoon when the wind completely died.

Lake Monona is a very pretty lake with very nice ramps at Olin-Turville Park. You have to back the truck down until the tires are slightly in the water and that is enough to float the 16 off. The view of the Capital Building and the Frank Lloyd Wright Convention center is really nice from the middle of the lake.

The Admiral had a good day of sunshine and easy sailing.

Just a great day to start off the sailing season.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life and it's wrinkles

Just when you think things are flowing along life gives you something new to think about. Monday night we get a call from our daughter's fiancé telling us that Tina had gotten her heel stuck in a grate at the top of her stairs and fell 7 feet. Well she managed to break not one, but BOTH arms by the elbow!

Heal quick Tina, we love you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A new toy for me!

My awesome wife and kids purchased an iPad for my birthday today. What a great surprise! I had been researching the iPad as a marine navigation device. I plan on getting INAVX to install on the iPad and give it a trial and review. The reviews I have read were positive (OK, there is always one grumpus who bashes everything), but I'll see for myself.

Thanks Brenda, John, Tina and Matt.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

October 13, 2008 First Sail on Puppy Luff

October 13, 2008

After spending a LOT of time researching small trailerables we purchased an '84 CP16 a couple of weeks ago.  It is in pretty good shape and basically stock.  We have sailed dinghies for a couple of seasons and we're ready for the next step.   We looked for something stable, room for 2 - 3 adults, fairly easy to launch, in good condition, well constructed and a good learning boat.  Seems like the 16 was made for us.

We splashed it last weekend (80 Degrees in Wisconsin) and had a ball.  It rigs, launches, and sails as easily as claimed.  About the only problems we encountered were 1. tiller has been really shortened due to rot and cracking 2. mainsheet was way too large a diameter for the fairlead and cam cleat.   I am fabricating a quick replacement tiller (44" instead of 27" long) and we have replaced the mainsheet with 5/16" single-braid.  Still not too thrilled with the OEM cam cleat.

We shared beautiful Lake Monona in Madison, WI on Sunday with several other sailboats.  It was fun to play with the sails to stay ahead of a similar sailboat.  We're not really the racing kind but you can't just let someone catch you!

We hope to get to know other Compac owner's to share our experiences with as well as learn all we can from their expertise.

Hang in there Fall, we're not done playing yet!

The Boats

1984 Com-Pac 16
"Puppy Luff"
It took a bit of work to make her beautiful, but she was quite the head turner. A dark blue hull with tan bark sails.

A wonderful, stable, well made vessel to trailer sail. We added a 155 genoa along with new genoa tracks to get better low wind performance. Other improvements included new trailer tires, a tongue mounted kicker mount, new trailer jack, and some new bottom paint.

1988 Com-Pac 19/II

"Miss B's Haven"
We enjoyed the Com-Pac 16 so much that when we were ready to go to a bigger boat it had to be the Com-Pac 19. It is fairly easy to trailer and very forgiving under sail. It is designed to be sailed with very little heel and it has a roomy cockpit. The cabin isn't huge, but it is comfortable for two people for multiple nights at anchor. We made some changes to the interior to make it easier for Mike (6' 2") to sleep more comfortably and give us a minimalist galley.

Wrinkles Com-Pac 23/3