Wednesday, February 29

Stay Dry!

Product of the Month - Henri Lloyd TP1 Pace Drysuit
By Daniel Martinez, eCommerce Manager, Crowley’s Yacht Yard,

Not having used a drysuit in a while, I headed over to our dock and took a dip.

The Henri Lloyd TP1 Pace Drysuit is a fantastic piece of gear for any cold-water sailor. The generous cut allows for full freedom of movement and the multiple adjustment points help keep it from being too baggy.

Drysuits should be sized primarily based on the height of the sailor, since it’s got to cover your whole body from your feet to your neck. The internal shoulder straps allow for some adjustment if the suit is slightly too large, but a suit that’s slightly too small is going to be, well, uncomfortable to say the least.

Putting on the drysuit I was struck by how flexible the material is, allowing me to move unencumbered but also with Cordura reinforcements in all the right spots, so you’re unlikely to rip out the seat when sliding forward on the rail and snagging a cleat.

Getting the seal over your head might be a bit uncomfortable for folks with long hair, so a putting on a hat while getting dressed might reduce how much hair you pull out.

The only other challenge is putting on boots over the drysuit booties. The drysuit booties are made of a tough rubber material that is a bit sticky. I used Zhik’s ZKG shoes for the test, because they’re very flexible and easy to put on, but even those stuck a little bit. The trick I’ve heard is to get a thin pair of oversocks and put those over the drysuit booties before putting on your dinghy boots. That should reduce binding and make gearing up a little easier.

Once the drysuit is on, it’s important to make sure the zipper is completely zipped and in its stop. Henri Lloyd has made a great zipper that seals securely and is easy to check with a quick glance.

Once you’re in, try to gather all the trapped air and squat a few times while opening up the neck seal with your hands to burp the suit. Removing most of the trapped air will make it possible to move around if you do end up in the water.

The final step is to try not to capsize, but know that if you hit the water, you’re going to be just fine.

Wednesday, February 22

All About Your Cradle

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your responses to our Ask an Expert column. We had such a great response we are going to answer multiple questions per newsletter. Please keep sending questions to

The Editorial Staff

Have I Seen My Cradle Lately?
By Jeff Strunka, Yard Manager, Crowley’s Yacht Yard,

Rusting cradle support

For many boaters, the condition of their cradle is one of the last things on their minds. The fact is that most boats in the northern regions of our country will spend ½ of their lives sitting on these structures. When in the water, the boats are buoyed up by equal pressure on the entire hull. While in storage, a majority of the weight is placed on the keel and the remainder on the pads or bunks. In many cases, the main function of the uprights or bunks is to keep the boat upright. So, my boat is safe on its cradle … right?

When judging your cradle, the fact is that all cradles are not created equal. Inferior cradles lack proper support and may be make of improper materials. Let’s take a look at some factors that lead to a weak cradle.

Some of the characteristics of these cradles are;
1) Excessive flex from thin gauge steel
2) Point loading from narrow bunks
3) Non-adjustable pads
4) Not enough uprights for proper support
5) Inadquately protected metal (see photo 1)

Inferior cradles can be modified by fortifying the base, swapping fixed pads for adjustable pads and adding more uprights. It is all about properly supporting the boat. Once the base is bent or very rusted, this modification is not recommended.

Cradle poppet pushing into a hull
The largest danger to your boat caused by an inferior cradle is the uneven loading on the hull. When the boat is placed on an inferior cradle, there is a great amount of flex in the base which transfers the load up to the hull of the boat through the pads or bunks. If the pads or bunks are not adjustable, the amount of pressure on the hull is not easy to assess. This upward pressure will only become noticeable with a “punch-in” or depression in the hull of the boat (see photo 2, don't worry this boat is going to the junkyard). The only way to relieve this pressure is to place some shims under the keel when the boat is placed on the cradle. Over time, shims can compress and again transfer pressure upward. This can lead to cracks in the hull or tabbing inside of the boat. Some additional blocking can be added to help, but this is not the long-term solution.

So what do I need to look for when inspecting my cradle?

Large boat on a 4 poppet cradle
First, check for the amount of flex in the base; look at the points where the pads or bunks contact the hull and the check the condition of the welds or bolts are the first things to consider. If your pads or bunks are not adjustable, this may be more difficult. If you have screwpads, you should be able to turn is slightly to know if too much or little pressure is on the hull.

Next, look at the entire boat. Is there enough support (see photo 3)? A four pad cradle may work fine for smaller boats (under 28’), but a six or eight pad cradle offer more support. Another advantage to having additional supports is the ability to work under the pads by lowering one at a time per side to access the hull. In order for this to work there has to be enough adjustment in the supports as well (see photo 4).

Poppets with little adjustment
Some boats need more support forward due to having a “swept back” keel. There is a lot of pressure that is transferred forward that can cause a separation of the hull and keel at the front of the leading edge of the keel when the boat is placed on its cradle. By adding an angled V-screwpad or “kicker” to meet the leading edge of the keel, we can greatly reduce the pressure exerted on the front pads or bunk (see photo 5).

Full keel forward support
Some of the new hull designs have the keel positioned more forward on the hull. This requires that the boat be moved more forward on the cradle and add additional upright support aft. There is a simple way to determine if you may need additional support. Look at your boat and ask if the boat were set down on its keel, would it be balanced or would it fall forward or aft. If the answer is “it would fall forward or aft”, then you may consider adding a set of uprights forward or aft.

The last check is to notice how much movement there is on the boat when you are aboard. If the boat sways from side to side, additional supports are recommended.

Since sailboats have cradles that are easier to see, we did not include any pictures of powerboat cradles. However, do not let our omission lull you into a sense of security, power boat cradles certainly can have these same issues and require regular inspection.

It is best to check your cradle while the boat is on the cradle. Take a look at your cradle this spring when you are visiting your boat. If modifications are needed, we can note them and do the work once your boat has launched. Each boat has its own needs to achieve proper support. If you have any concerns about your cradle or have any further questions, you can contact me, Jeff Strunka, at

Thank you and think spring!

Iceboating on Lake Delavan

This past weekend, Chicago sailors decided to face the cold, satisfy their need for wind-powered fun and head up to Lake Delavan for a go-fast day. A local sailor spotted this gem, a Beau Skeeter built in 1932 for Harry Melges Sr. In it he won the Northwest Ice Yacht Regatta. The boat was then named the Mickey Fin and is now owned by Chris Goes of DLYC.
Classic 1932 Beau Skeeter Iceboat

Harry Melges Sr's winning brass plaque

The builder's class marque

Current owner Chris Goes of DLYC

Wednesday, February 15

Crowley's Newsletter - Lakeside Story

Upcoming Events
Yachtapalooza - March 24, 2012

Future Newsletters
Feb 21How to...
Feb 28 - Featured Product
Mar  6 - Ask an Expert
Mar 13 - Profile of the Month

Picture of the Week

This week's picture is of the J24 Midwinters Race,  in which our eCommerce Manager, Daniel Martinez, is participating.

​If you have a seaworthy picture you'd like to see here, let us know! Just reply to this email with your name, picture, and description.

Dear Customer,

Welcome to Lakeside Story, our weekly informational email. Along with the newsletter, we are reinstating our blog, The Crowley Advisor. We have developed an online community for you, the boater, filled with great information and discussions on do-it-yourself projects and ideas, new products, and the like. Each week will cover a different topic and rotate monthly and you can follow along and participate in the conversation utilizing our blog.

The four topics covered in the newsletter are Project of the Month, Product of the Month, Ask an Expert, and Profile of the Month. Project of the Month will look at common boatyard jobs with specific details to help you with your project. The first Project of the Month subject will be cradle inspection. Likely, your boat is stored on a cradle, so making sure that you know how to identify potential problems is important to the long-term health of your boat. In March, our project topic is going to focus on our favorite springtime rite-of-passage: bottom painting.

To feature our favorite items in the store, we have the Product of the Month newsletter. The focus will be on items that Crowley’s employees have actually used while boating. Our hope is that our experience will help you make informed decisions while shopping. Please let us know if there are products you want to see tested.

The Ask an Expert topic is an opportunity for you to question us. Our editorial staff will choose an appropriate reader-submitted question to answer each month. We have a lot of marine industry experience at Crowleys, so sometimes during discussions we overlook things that are important to you. We only have two weeks until this subject comes up, so please send your questions into

In the Profile of the Month feature you will find profiles of customers, employees, yard improvements and other pertinent maritime subjects. Our goal is to keep each topic seasonally relevant as it pertains to the Chicagoland boating season and community. We think there are some interesting boats and people at Crowley’s are whose stories deserve telling. Also, this topic will also be a place to find out about the marine related adventures of our employees.

Each newsletter topic will be posted to The Crowley Advisor blog and we encourage your participation in the conversation. As one of our topics is “Ask an Expert”, we hope you will submit your questions to and join in on the fun! Thank you for your time and effort and we will see you on the water.

Happy boating,

The Lakeside Story Editorial Team

Monday, February 6

Crowley’s Yacht Yard announces winner of 2012-13 Free Winter Storage Raffle

Chicago, IL February 6, 2012:  Today Crowley’s Yacht Yard, Chicago’s premier boat yard, announces the winner of its First Annual Free Winter Storage Raffle. Crowley’s collected 150 raffle entries at the Strictly Sail Chicago boat show that ran from January 26-29, 2012. Longtime storage customer “Dark Island”, a Tartan 3700, had the winning entry.  

This was the first year that Crowley’s has raffled off free winter storage. Crowley’s sales manager, Phil Pollard, commented, “We launched this raffle at Strictly Sail Chicago as a way to introduce new storage customers to Crowley’s. We are looking forward to increased participation in future years.”

Crowley’s Yacht Yard is a 35 year veteran of the Chicago boating scene with a 25-acre boat yard facility on the Calumet River with easy access to Lake Michigan. Crowley’s stores almost 1000 boats inside and outside each winter. For the discerning boat owner Crowley’s offers 200,000 square feet of indoor heated storage space. Crowley’s energetic workforce is trained in all aspects of today’s complicated boat systems.