Wednesday, August 29

How do I fix my leaking hatch? – Leaky Larry

Dear Leaky Larry,

Lewmar Ocean Hatch
You've hit on one of the most common questions that we receive from customers.  Boat hatches of all manufacturers will eventually start to leak, typically due to one of the seals going bad with age. Almost all hatch leaking problems can be reduced to one of four areas. Of course, your leaking hatch may suffer from more than one of these.

Determining where the leak is, exactly, is step one. The best time to find the leak is in a down pour or thunder storm. Spraying the hatch with a hose can find the leak, but sometimes there isn’t a substitute for Mother Nature when it comes to volume.  With the hatch soaking and hopefully leaking, look to see if the water is coming through the deck-to-hatch base joint, the handle where it goes through the hatch, around the lens, or between the hatch base and the lid.

If the handles are leaking, you will need to replace the o-rings that seal the handle. We can replace these for currently manufactured hatches. For older hatches, we will carefully remove the handle and o-ring so that the o-ring stays in one piece (this may not be possible) and we can match up a new o-ring to the old one and reassemble the handle.

If the seal around the lens is leaking or the lens itself is cracked and leaking, we can fix both of these situations for you. This is a good winter project since older hatches may need a custom cut replacement lens.

If the hatch is leaking between the hatch base and the lid, we can replace the gasket. Once again on older models we may have to order an aftermarket seal. In most cases this will work, but unfortunately in some cases the hatch lid or base is bent causing the leak. In some cases, a specialty shop can straighten the hatch, but often a bent hatch means hatch replacement.

If the leak is coming from in between the deck and the hatch base, we can remove the hatch, clean off the old sealant and re-mount the hatch on the deck. It is possible that this joint started leaking due to the hatch base being bent which as mentioned above may be repairable, but likely means replacing the hatch.

Leaky Larry, I hope this helps. If you want to attempt any of the above repair jobs yourself, we’d be happy to walk you through it over the phone.



Thursday, August 23

John Stanis – Crowley's Mechanical Dept Manager 20 questions:

1. How long have you worked at Crowley’s?  20 years last March.
2. How did you first start working here? I was graduating from Lincoln Tech and the job placement office set up the interview with Crowley’s.
3. Which departments have you worked in? In the Mechanical Department only.
4. What is your favorite time of year at Crowley’s? Back when I was still turning wrenches, springtime was my favorite time of the year. It is total chaos that time of the year and the job has to get done. Now all the seasons are a blur of paperwork.
5. How often do you go boating? As much as possible! Lately this has been every other week.
6. What kind of boat? I own a 1995 Maxum 2700SCR and a 1990 Switzer Craft SC220
7. Did you grow up boating? No – I started boating when Crowley’s hired me. The problem is I’m hooked now, so I’ll be boating forever.
8. What is your favorite boating activity? Cruising to different places. Also, introducing non-boaters to boating.
9. How many technicians work in your department? Currently 6.
10. How often do they go to training? All of our technicians go to various training schools every winter. Typically, we send techs to Volvo, MerCruiser, Westerbeke, and Yanmar schools every year.
11. What job specific training do you have? Volvo, MerCruiser, Westerbeke and Yanmar factory training…and of course 20 years on the job.
12. What certifications do you have? MerCruiser stern drives, OMC certified (out of production) and working on my Volvo diesel certification.
13. What is your number one recommendation to boat owners? Get to know your engine. The more the boat owner knows about his engine the easier it is for him to explain what is wrong so that we can go into the repair headed in the right direction.
14. In your area of expertise, what can a boat owner do to maintain their boat? Most important is for the owner to know when something has changed because this usually signals a failure is about to happen. They need to be used to the way the boat feels and sounds under their normal operating conditions.
15. What is the owner complaint that you hear most often? The engine won’t start. What I really need to know is if it won’t turn over, or won’t crank over, or won’t fire, or won’t stay running. This goes back to knowing your engine…if you can explain the details, we will start the repair process in the right place, leading to a faster, less expensive repair.
16. What is your number one money saving tip for boat owners? Diligence with maintenance. At a minimum do all manufacturer recommended maintenance. We have a saying in the mechanical repair business: Pay now or pay later and later will be more expensive. I can’t stress enough the importance of maintenance.
17. What is the toughest part of your job? Explaining why something broke. Sometimes things just break particularly on boats that are not maintained well.
18. When are you most likely to be found in the harbors? If I’m in the harbor on your boat there is something very wrong. Typically, it would be a situation where we need to get the factory involved in repair process.
19. What is your favorite winter activity? Stay at home and work on the house.
20. What is the best way to get a hold of you to ask a question? Email:

Thursday, August 16

Antal Low Friction Rings

By Daniel Martinez and Andrew Spaulding

Antal Low Friction Rings
When you need to deflect a line or add purchase, the standard go-to is a block, but there are some applications where a block may be too heavy, obtrusive, or expensive.

For instance, by using Antal rings in a backstay cascade on a 36.7, your backstay will have saved 3lbs in hardware weight (over 60%) and $250 in hardware costs when compared with the stock backstay configuration.

The Antal rings are popular for many uses including backstay and vang cascade purchase systems, in-haulers, barber haulers, twings, and lazy jacks, which are all systems that carry high loads but do not require much throw in the line.

Their only real sensitivity is to high friction/heat, such as what blocks experience when a spinnaker sheet is released, so using them as spinnaker sheet turning blocks or mast base halyard blocks is not the best idea.

The pictures above show some of the more popular uses of the Antal Low Friction Rings. If you don’t have the time or knowledge to splice dyneema around your Antal ring, Antal sells them already made up as a ring with loop. The rings are available in four models with holes from 10 to 25mm. See below for a sizing chart:

The Antal Low Friction Rings are widely recognized as the simplest idea for maximum load and minimum weight. In any application it is important to remember that it is likely that the Antal ring will be much stronger than the line used to attach it to the boat. So, realize that it is the safe working load of the line that will limit the use of the Antal ring…or move you up to a larger size ring just to get a larger size line around it. 

At the Crowley’s retail store you can purchase the 10mm Antal ring for $14.99, the 14mm ring for $15.99, the 20mm ring for $20.99 and the 28mm ring for $29.99. The 14mm ring with dyneema loop (RL6.0) is $57.99 for comparison.

Thanks to Euro Marine Trading, Inc. for providing the Antal catalog online
here. Antal’s website can be found at

As always, please let us know if you have any questions regarding this product.

Wednesday, August 8

Asymmetrical Spinnaker Trim

by Daniel Martinez and Michael Argyelan

This article is intended to focus on the basics of asymmetrical spinnaker trim once the sail is hoisted and drawing. Each boat will have different requirements for rigging and different considerations for maneuvers, so we will keep this general. If you have specific questions about your boat, shoot us an email and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.

Asymmetrical spinnakers are much simpler than symmetrical kites and for that reason are a great option for cruisers and racers alike. For cruisers, sure, you can “set it and forget it,” but you can get to the bar an hour earlier if you put in a little effort. Here are a few tricks to get you out there having more fun and take out some of the guess work.

While there are different cuts of asymmetrical spinnakers, many are cut to be versatile across wind ranges and downwind angles. You may notice a large curved panel along the luff of the sail. That panel is to allow the sail to roll out to windward on a deep downwind reach to escape the wind shadow of the main, but may look ugly when trimming the sail for a hot reach. Sails without such a large luff may have difficulty sailing low, but will have a more efficient flow and more stable curl at higher angles.

Now what angle do we sail? In lighter breeze, boats like to sail higher angles, closer to a beam reach in order to keep the apparent wind moving through the rig. If you sail too low in light breeze, your boat will outrun the sails and backwind the sail. While it may feel counterproductive to sail a hot angle when your destination is downwind of you, consider that using an asymmetrical spinnaker downwind is just like tacking upwind except that you’re jibing. It’s faster to keep the boat moving and throw in a few extra maneuvers than to pinch your way to a standstill.

We now know our general angle, but do we have to sail straight? Absolutely not! Downwind driving with an asymmetrical spinnaker should follow a gentle S-turn. Head up until your rig begins to load up and the luff of the spinnaker begins curling. Then bear away slightly and carry your momentum down until the boat begins to feel light or slow down, then head back up. The sailing in the middle of this S-curve is your “groove”. How wide your “groove” is depends on your trim.

The general rule of spinnaker trim is to ease the sheet until you see a curl in the luff, then hold there. If the curl begins to grow and threaten to collapse the sail, trim in until it stabilizes. How much curl you want to have depends on the sail, angle and speed of the boat. Generally we find that healthy curl is about 1-1.5’ of luff folding in, but if the sail is trying to collapse a lot, reduce the amount of curl by trimming on more sheet.

There are other control lines as well. One of the most often undervalued is the tack line. Tack line adjustment is key to adjusting the shape, and even location, of the sail. On a deep downwind run with healthy breeze, an ease in the tack line will allow the sail to fly up and to windward of the rig, allowing it to catch more breeze and also helping move the center of effort of the kite further to windward to help the boat balance and carve its own path downwind. When reaching hard upwind, the tack line should be completely taut in order to stretch out and stabilize the luff of the sail.

The other control line, and one that should be avoided until necessary, is a twing. Not all asymmetricals are rigged with twings, but when the waves get big and the sail trim gets fluky, a little tension (think an inch or two) on the twing will help steady the sail. Don’t get greedy on the twing, because cranking it all the way down will close the slot between the kite and the main, backwind the main and seriously unbalance your driver.

Try these steps and keep a close eye on your speedometer. Notice the speed differences you see when heading up to the top of your groove and see how far you can continue carrying speed when you press down. Eventually you’ll find exactly how high you need to go to get the acceleration, and just how far down you can push it before you slow down too much.

Wednesday, August 1

Symmetrical Spinnaker Trim

By Andrew Spaulding, Crowley’s Yacht Yard

For those of us out there racing boats with the “old” technology of symmetrical spinnakers, I have a few things to mention that hopefully will help you get the most out of your down wind runs.
To review the basics: 1) The spin pole trimmer (after-guy and fore-guy) is going to keep the pole perpendicular to the wind as a base setting. The spin trimmer (spin sheet) is going to ease the sheet until the luff of the spinnaker curls slightly and trim the sail in when it curves a lot or breaks (starts flapping). 2) The clew (sheet end) and tack (pole end) should be even horizontally, so move the pole up and down with the topping lift and fore guy so that the tack is the same height as the clew. Typically, the deeper you sail down wind the higher the clew will fly. Of course, as you move the outboard end of the spin pole up or down you will need to make a corresponding move with the inboard end to maintain maximum extension of the tack.

Once you have the basics down your trim decisions will largely depend on the conditions. For example one, let’s say you are sailing a deep angle with a following sea. As the driver surfs the waves the boat will accelerate as it starts down the wave and decelerate as the wave passes. As the boat goes faster the apparent wind will come forward requiring spinnaker trim. In large waves, this effect can be large enough to require the pole to be adjusted forward, as well. The best case is when you are trying to sail a lower angle to the next turning mark so that the driver can turn the boat down as the apparent wind comes forward. This will minimize the amount of necessary spinnaker trim. In those situations where you cannot drive the boat down, all the lines that are involved in spinnaker trim (sheet, fore-guy, after-guy, topping lift) need to move quickly to keep up with the changes. There are situations where this isn’t possible, so sail a little over trimmed so that the trimmer has time to catch up as the boat accelerates.

Example two, you are sailing on a tight spinnaker reach in 25 knots of wind. Bring the pole forward so that it is just off of the headstay. In 25 knots, I like to keep it at least a foot away from the headstay so that if the after-guy or fore-guy slips a little while cleating or un-cleating won’t cause the pole to slam into the headstay. You will notice the clew is very low, so get the pole down close to the bow pulpit to match. It is critical for the trimmer to know the feel of the boat because when the boat gets overpowered by a puff and the boat starts to round up into a broach the trimmer must ease out the sheet often very quickly. The more the trimmer knows the boat the more the trimmer will be able to work with the driver to keep the boat upright. Of course, in these conditions a grinder will be necessary…preferably one in great shape.

Example three, you are sailing dead down wind in 12 knots of breeze. Bring the pole all the way aft, almost to the shrouds. Ease the spinnaker out, and then keep going. In the right conditions the spinnaker will rotate out from behind the main, projecting more sail area out in front of the wind. If it doesn’t work, trim in to find your sweet spot. Heading dead down wind in light air can cause a leeward break in the spinnaker if the driver sails by the lee to far. It is possible for a leeward break in the spinnaker to be interpreted by the driver as a windward break causing the driver to steer further down making the problem worse, not better. In this situation, the spinnaker can wrap around the headstay. With quick reaction by the crew to over trim the sheet and after-guy, and by the driver to head up, usually the wrap will come out. If it is a bad one, the driver can alternate between heading up to shake the sail and heading down to hide it from the wind behind the mainsail while the crew is over trimming. If this doesn’t do it, the sail will have to come down to clear the wrap.

Tricks of the Trade: 1) In heavy air trim the spinnaker on the lazy after-guy (not the sheet). Since the after-guy goes through a block near the rail mid-ship this effectively chokes the sail down which will help take some power out of the sail and control oscillations. 2) In medium to light air, take off the lazy after-guy so the sail doesn’t have to hold that extra weight up. In light air, switch to a light air sheet. 3) In light air and not while reaching, ease the halyard a foot to help the spinnaker project away from the boat. 4) Lots of times I’ve seen crews struggle with spinnaker problems for a long time. If you are not making progress towards fixing the problem within 15 seconds, drop the spinnaker on deck, fix the problem and re-hoist the sail – trust me, it will be faster.