Ballasting a yacht — Lead on keel — The anchor — Setting up rigging — Ventilation and dry rot — Mildew in sails — Stretching new sails — Laying up a boat for the winter — Inventory.
In the first place no ballast should be stowed at either extremity of a vessel; it should, as far as is possible, be concentrated in the midship section This cannot be done unless a heavy and therefore compact form of ballast such as lead or iron is employed. If ballast be divided throughout the entire length of a vessel she will be sluggish in a sea-way; her head will not rise to the waves, but plunge into them, and it will be the same with her stern; she will be a wet and uncomfortable craft. On the other hand, a vessel whose ballast is concentrated amidships will be lively, her bow and stern in succession will rise buoyantly to the seas, and she will be a dry, seaworthy craft.
It is always well to have some of the ballast of a small yacht outside, on her keel; for it will be generally found impossible to stow all the ballast in the midship section without raising the floor and so sacrificing-head room in the cabin.
In placing ballast on the outside of a vessel, the same precaution must be taken as when stowing it inside — no weight must be put at the ends of the vessel. The lead or iron keel should not be carried down her whole length, as it often is, but should be mortised into the central portion of the wooden keel.
In the next place, ballast should be stowed as low as possible; for the lower it is, the less amount of it suffices to give the v essel the necessary stability. Here again the advantage of a metal keel is apparent. The leverage of the outside ballast is so enormous that the yacht becomes practically uncapsizable. But an excessive weight of lead on the keel will strain a vessel in rough water, she will recover herself with a quick jerk after heeling over to a puff, and her every motion will be violent. The most comfortable vessel at sea is undoubtedly the one that carries only a moderate weight of ballast on her keel, and the bulk of it inside.
Should a vessel be coppered, care must be taken that the sheathing does not touch — or even approach within an inch or two — the iron keel; for the galvanic action set up between the two metals would rapidly corrode the iron.
In order that the ballast may fit closely and so lie as low as possible in a vessel's hold, it is well to have it cast in moulds shaped like the interior of the vessel's bottom. This is more important in the case of the limber ballast; that is, the lowest layer of ballast which rests on the vessel's timbers. This can be so moulded as to project downwards between the limbers and fill up what would otherwise be empty space; for ballast must on no account be supported by the planking, but always by the timbers or framework of the vessel. If you put pressure from the inside on your yacht's planking, do not be surprised if she soon becomes nail-sick and leaky.
If ordinary pig and not moulded ballast be used, the spaces between the bottom timbers are empty. It is an excellent plan to fill them up fore and aft with Portland cement. This, hardening to the shape of the vessel, becomes as it were a part of her and, far from exerting outward pressure on the planking, strengthens the bottom considerably. It not only serves as ballast, but effectually prevents the wa~er leaking through that portion of the vessel covered by it.
Lead is far the best ballast that can be used, the only objection to it being its great cost. However, it may be set off against this that lead does not corrode to any extent, and if the yacht is broken up or sold, the lead ballast can be sold at its market value with as much ease as if it were a precious metal.
The specific gravity of lead is to that of iron, roughly, as eleven to seven. Not oxidizing readily, it makes much cleaner ballast than iron, and it does not produce appreciable galvanic action and corrosion when in contact with another metal. Iron ballast, unless it is painted, fills the bilge water with rust, which will stain everything it comes across when pumped on deck. Even if the pump leads, as it should do, over the side, the water thrown out will leave an ugly stain on the paint.
If pig iron is used as ballast, the interstices between the pigs can be fitted up with small fragments of scrap iron, which can be purchased very cheaply.
If the spaces between the timbers are not filled with Portland cement, by which the bilge is kept quite sweet, the limbers or holes through the bottom timbers must be kept clear, so that the bilge water cannot accumulate anywhere and become offensive, but will run down freely to the pump well.
With this object, a small chain is generally kept rove through the limber holes. By drawing it backwards and forwards the limbers are cleared of shavings or other obstacles that are blocking them up.
We may here remark that it is important to arrange the pump-well so that it can be got at in a moment; if the pump is choked, it can thus be quickly cleared.
To keep the inside of a vessel sweet, tar the bottom timbers and plankings before putting the ballast in; this of course also serves to preserve the wood.
THE ANCHOR.— A good anchor should combine various qualities, the chief of which, so far as a yacht's anchors are concerned, are, holding power, exemption from fouling, and easy stowage. Trotman's patent anchors appear to us to be the best suited for small yachts. They are manufactured in every size. The two arms of a Trotman's anchor are in one solid piece and oscillate on a pivot in the shank, so that the arm that is holding the ground is spread out by the strain on the chain; while the other arm folds up along the shank and so offers no projection round which the chain can get foul when the vessel swings. This anchor has great holding power, and is easily stowed on deck. Patent stockless anchors are now made, in which the arms oscillate not to and from the shank, as in Trotman's, but transversely to it, so that the two arms enter the ground together. These anchors are well spoken of by those who have tried them.
SETTING UP RIGGING.— The forestays, main shrouds, and other portions of a yacht's standing rigging are now very seldom made of hemp, but of galvanized wire. These must always be set up taut as soon as they show signs of slackness, but not quite so taut as hempen stays are set up, for wire does not stretch like hemp does. Wire shrouds set up too taut put an enormous strain on the sides of a boat, and will in course of time pull them quite out of shape. The mast should not be so rigidly stayed down that it has no play; on the contrary, when sail is set, a mast should be allowed to trend and so take upon itself a considerable proportion of the strain before any is thrown upon the weather shrouds.
The shroud lanyards are of rope, but are not long enough to give sufficient play by stretching; however, they do give some hfe and spring to the rigging, whereas the iron screws with which the shrouds on some small yachts are set up cannot give and take in the least, must strain the boat, and seem to us wholly objectionable, though they do save some labour to an indolent mariner.
To set up a shroud, get it taut with a watch tackle (see Fig. 12) — the smallest yacht ought to carry at least one watch tackle, or "handy billy," as sailors call it; it is useful for a variety of odd jobs — then reeve the lanyards through the dead-eyes and make the ends fast.
When a yacht is under way in a fresh breeze the weather shrouds are very taut and the lee shrouds slack. So the lee shrouds can easily be set up by hand, and when the vessel has gone about on the other tack the other shrouds will become the slack ones and can be set up in the same manner.
VENTILATION AND DRY-ROT.— One cause of dry-rot is the use of unseasoned timber in the construction of a vessel, but this fatal evil has its origin most frequently in want of ventilation.
The air should permeate freely every portion of a vessel's woodwork. The ballast should be so stowed that it does not interfere with the ventilation of the hold; and holes, which can form an ornamental pattern, must be drilled at intervals along the panelling of the cabin.
MILDEW IN SAILS is always the result of carelessness. It is not wet that causes mildew, but dampness combined with want of ventilation. Thus, if a sail be furled when it is damp, the inner folds will mildew. Wet sail should always be furled loosely, and it should be shaken out and dried at the earliest opportunity. If it has been lying furled in a damp state for some time, do not wait for the sun, but shake it out and give it air, even if the rain be falling.
Do not, because you have furled your sail dry and put its waterproof cover on it, imagine that you can leave it thus with safety for an indefinite time. The damp will get into it in some way, and half the mildew in sails is due to a blind faith in sail-covers.
Remember that the light cotton of which the topsails and spinnakers of small yachts are made is much more liable to mildew than flax canvas.
STRETCHING NEW SAILS.— If a new sail is not treated with proper care when it first comes from the makers, it will stretch irregularly, forming a great bag in one place, and having tight wrinkles in another. If a sail be thus spoiled at the outset, the fault can never be remedied, and it will remain a badly standing sail to the end.
Do not put too great a strain on any part of a new sail. For instance, while bending the mainsail, do not haul out its peak and clews along the gaff and boom with powerful tackle. Have them out taut, of course, but do not try and stretch them out at first by main force so as to save yourself future trouble. Let the whole sail stretch equally.
It is a good plan, and the delay will be well repaid. not to get under way at once with one's new sails, but to remain at anchor for a few days, and haul the sails up for some hours each day. They will then, with their own weight and the slight action of the wind swinging them about without filling them, stretch in a gradual and uniform way.
After this you will find your mainsail slack along the gaff and you can tighten up your peak lashing and lacing.
The first day that you get under way with your new canvas should be a fine one. If it comes on to blow hard, and you have to reef your mainsail, it will certainly be pulled out of shape. You must not expect your sail to stretch in a day. You will have to tighten up the lacing and haul out the earing many times before your mainsail has stretched its full, and the oftener the better for your sail's flatness.
LAYING UP A BOAT FOR THE WINTER.— In laying up a small yacht, it is well to have her upon shore, and if possible, under cover. She will thus become thoroughly dry, and she will be far more buoyant when she is launched again than if she had been lying on the mud all the winter with the water soaking through her.
All the ballast should be taken out of a boat when she is laid up. If the limber pieces be moulded to fit the shape of the bottom, each piece should be numbered so that its particular place in the hold will be known when fitting out again.
The bottom of the boat inside should be thoroughly cleaned and then tarred.
If any weeds are growing on the outside, scrape them off as soon as the yacht is on shore. It is much easier to do so when they are moist than after they have dried on the wood.
When taking the running rigging off a small yacht, the simplest plan is not to unreeve the halyards, but to unhook the blocks and carry them away with the halyards. Write the name of each halyard on one of its blocks, or, better still, mark both blocks of a halyard, showing which is the upper and which the under.
You will thus greatly simplify the task of rigging the vessel again on the following season; for to recognize one's rigging when ropes and blocks are lying in front of one unmarked is no easy matter.
If the yacht is to be left out of doors for the winter, cover the decks with common varnish and the spars with grease and white lead. Resin dissolved in boiled oil makes a very good varnish for coating woodwork that is to be exposed to the open air during the winter.
Remember that there is nothing that will so spoil and blacken a vessel's decks as an accumulation of snow upon them. It is a wise precaution to build a rough sloping roof over the deck, of hurdles and old canvas, or anything that comes handy, when laying her up. If she is laid up in a river where she may be exposed to floating ice, fasten hurdles round her sides.
Skylights and hatches must be frequently opened during the winter, so as to ventilate the vessel, and any water must be pumped out of her. A yacht will deteriorate more through one winter's neglect than in ten years' fair sailing.
The sails should of course be thoroughly dried before being stowed away for the winter. They should be stowed in a dry, well-ventilated loft. If they are soaked in sea water before being dried, they are not so liable to mildew.
INVENTORY.— There are many small but necessary articles which the amateur is likely to forget when starting for a cruise in his new boat. We will enumerate some of thc most important of these. Marline spikes, a sail-maker's needle and palm, plenty of spun-yarn and seaming twine. Spare ropes, including stuff for lanyards, etc. Spare blocks, thimbles, cliphooks, shackles, etc. The more necessary carpenter's tools, including the nails and screws likely to be required. Universal spanners, for screwing on or unscrewing nuts of various sizes. Paints in tins, with turpentine, oil, dryers, and brushes. Scrapers for removing old paint, etc. Stout fenders, to be used while getting alongside a wharf, and on other occasions, when outside paint is in danger. A good warp — grass rope or coir will answer the purpose well. A watch tackle or "handy billy," which is, as we have shown, useful for a variety of purposes. A snatch-block with a tail, very handy when a pull is required on any rope, as it can be clapped on in a moment. A small screw-jack. A serving mallet.