One little letter makes a BIG difference…

Today’s post is about wenches, no wait, that’s not right!  This is a wench:


Today’s post is about winches!  These are winches:

Little winch, big winch

Little winch, big winch

Winches are used to help pull the sails taut.  The ropes, I mean lines and sheets, wrap around the winch to reduce the load (pressure, strain) so that your average non-Popeye can haul sails up or trim them.  If sails are ‘luffing’, kind of billowing along the edges and make a flapping noise, then they aren’t being efficient.

 My dining room table was covered with winch parts!  Rick took them apart to get them working again.  Some of these babies cost over a hundred bucks!  Apiece!  But, since this is a ‘budget’ yacht, we don’t just slap down hundred dollar bills willy-nilly!  No!  We try to fix them first.  And by we I mean Rick.


Amazingly enough, Rick was able to get them all working again!  One of them had small organic bits in it, like seeds, that were keeping the action from turning (I say ‘action’ because I have no idea what to call it really.  Rick kept putting oil on it and finally in exasperation took it into the back and pounded on it mercilessly until it gave in.

...a preponderance of winches and pulleys...

…a preponderance of winches and pulleys…

All the winches from the boat.

All the winches from the boat.

The mechanism is simple.  The wench rotates around a gear on a spindle – or maybe it’s the other way round.  You pull on the rope and the wench turns and the sail tightens.  As the wench turns a sticky-outy thing called a pawl is pulled over each notch but it will slip back into the notch stopping the wench from rotating the other direction.  It’s sort of like the gears in a watch, you remember those old-fashioned wind-up kind?

Here’s a picture of a type of winch used to pull boats onto trailers, it might give you a better idea than my sad description of the thing.

The gears make it easier to pull up the boat, hey, physics works!

The gears make it easier to pull up the boat.  Yay, physics works!

Once you have the sail or boom or whatever where you want it, you secure (tie off) the line.

Part of Rick’s dilemma is that he’d really like all the winches to match, be from the same manufacturer.  You and I may not care but it niggles at him that they aren’t all matchy-matchy.  He can’t see dropping money for a part that works perfectly well, though, so he’ll put the non-matching winches on the mast, where they aren’t as visible.

Look again at the pic above to see the size difference of these winches.  And this is nuthin’ compared to those on bigger boats!

Rick spends hours wandering around the internet looking for parts.  He found some at Lowe’s.  What is Lowe’s doing selling boat parts?  It seems they only sell stainless steel items near marinas, so if you know of a Lowe’s near water, you can go online and see if they carry what you’re looking for.  So Rick saved about 70% buying stuff there.

 Rick feels  guilty every time he spends money on the boat – its a cheap little thing and so easy to put more money into it that its worth, but honestly he pours over catalogs and online sites to find the best deal and he really knows how to pinch a penny!  The boat needs to be serviceable and that’s about it.  Plus, not only is Rick the ‘gotta educate myself about things before I make a move’ kind of person, we just lived through a horrible, horrible few years of ‘economic downturn’, which is political-speak for economic hell.  We were fortunate (our accountant says we are the poster-children for doing things right and managing our company through the ordeal) but I don’t think we will ever think frivolously about money again.

I was at our niece’s grad college party on Saturday (YAY RONI!).

Congrats to Roni!

Congrats to Roni!

A friend, Shelly, and I were talking about how we no longer feel we need a 4000 sf house and she said something that resonated with me.

She said that the crash really ‘knocked the ugly out of us’.  Shelly is right.   We relearned what is important.

During those years, I’d tell people:  We have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, gas in our cars and our kids are doing great.  What more do we need?

And ain’t it the truth?

Except I keep flashing back to that hilarious Steve Martin movie ‘The Jerk’.

I don’t need anything…

…except this lamp…

…and this chair…




One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

When I was in 6th grade we lived in Florida, in a triplex down the street from a place where people dumped stuff they didn’t want.  Weird to think of it now (that was back in the 60’s) but all us neighborhood kids would wander around the place and scavenge ‘treasures’…like game pieces and  dice and marbles and goofy things like that.  Seriously, its a sickness!  I’ll still hang onto every ball-chain keychain I find.  They are the BEST for hopscotch and I never know when a good game of hopscotch will come up!  I had a place on the windowsill where I kept my loot.

like these!

Now what brought this up is that Rick is scavenging parts at a sort-of dump for boats.

A few weeks ago Rick saw on Craigslist that someone was parting out an Islander 30 and called to find out what stuff might still be available.

After talking with the guy (we’ll call him Popeye), Rick made arrangements to go check out the boat – not just to potentially buy bits and pieces that our boat was missing (our boat, how fun to say that) but to see how various things were put together.  Like what does the area above the bathroom sink look like?  How is the lighting set up?  How is the septic tank laid out?

The boat was in the central valley, over the hill about 90 minutes from us.  Rick got there and discovered that Popeye has 20-some boats that he’s collected and parts out!  He’d bought this Islander 30 for about $2000 and had already parted it out for over 4 grand!  That’s a pretty good haul for a tired old boat.  He sold off the mast, engine, winches, steps, interior racks, stove, cushions, whatever can be removed

Anyway, Rick spent more than 2 hours with him talking and looking around and pulling parts from the boat.

He bought a bunch of small wood pieces to fill in areas on our boat that are broken and a paper-towel holder, some handrails and 2 large pieces of plywood…all for about $30.

Popeye knows the prices for all the metal on the boat; the aluminum mast, lead keel.  He told Rick that the lead keel can be worth up to $2,000!  He removes all the metal for recycling and then will take it to be demolished.  That’s a sad thought.  Especially when you think that it’s pretty much what happened to our boat before we were crazy enough to buy it!

Here’s a picture of the boat Rick was scavenging through.  He might go back to Popeye and buy a spinnaker sail.  Rick says it’s in better condition than ours, but it’s not as pretty – red, white and blue…boooring…  Naturally, that means that Rick will have to take a class on how to use a spinnaker!

Boat graveyard – or is it a smorgasboard?

Now Rick has 2 people who buy boats no one else wants and sells them off bit by bit – which sounds kind of gruesome, doesn’t it?  Sad little boats.   But, it’s a good deal for us since we are rebuilding our little Susurrus on the cheap.  Come to think of it, we aren’t cheap!  Actually, this is the best in reusing, recycling, being green and saving green!  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉