Wednesday, September 26

Picture of the Week - September 26, 2012

Flash Gordon wins the Farr 40 World Championship
Local boat FLASH GORDON 6 as the crew celebrates their Farr 40 world title in Chicago. Owner: Helmut Jahn, Tactician: Bill Hardesty Home Port: Chicago, IL 

Photo credit

Ceramic Blade Carbon Knife

by Daniel Martinez, eCommerce Manager
Ceramic Blade Carbon Knife

Anyone who has tried to cut high-tech lines with a stainless blade will have noticed how quickly their blades dulled. High tech lines are extremely strong and even if you can get your blade to go through it once, odds are that it will need a sharpening before you move on to the next cut. For this reason, riggers generally keep a pack of razor blades on hand to preserve their knives and toughen up the calluses on their fingertips. Ceramic blades are the answer to this issue and the Carbon Fiber Ceramic Knife does it with style.

A few of us around the yard have been using these for a while and the knife is an absolute workhorse. The ceramic blade hardly dulls at all and makes for easy cuts through spectra when working on rig jobs and cuts clean lines in tape. It’s sharp enough to make a nice cut on a piece of sail tape for a quick repair and slices right through zip ties. Its light weight makes it easy to maneuver, especially for delicate cuts or in iffy situations where the user may want to grasp the back of the blade rather than the handle.

The ceramic blade is a pure cutting blade, so should not be used to pry paint cans or carve out old 4200 or spread open cotter rings, so a second, less awesome knife should be kept on hand for those jobs.

We love it when people leave feedback for us, and to pay it forward we’d like to give some credit to our supplier and his incredible responsiveness to one of our customer’s issues.

A customer of ours contacted us after the knife he purchased started to show signs of corrosion on some of the metal fittings after a night spent in a gear bag soaked in salt water. We passed along the issue to our supplier and within hours a replacement was on its way. A few hours later we received another email that explained how the supplier tested the product to recreate the issue and how he was going to work to solve the problem. He did suggest that with saltwater use, the knife should be rinsed with fresh water, and with freshwater use an application of lubricant or protectant would prevent corrosion from starting.

Now THIS is a guy who stands by his product. Not only did he immediately get to work replacing the knife, he spent his evening replicating the issue and developing a solution!

We’ve been lucky not to run into any issues here on the fresh water of Lake Michigan and we hope to carry more products from this supplier in the near future.

Of course, once you are out there and using your new ceramic knife someday you will need to sharpen it. Sharpening ceramic blades is difficult due both to the extreme hardness of the blade and the tendency to create micro-chips along the edge. Polishing the edge to get a higher degree of sharpness if it does become uniformly “dull” can be accomplished with very, very fine silicone carbide wet/dry sandpaper. This is not a fast process but does work. Put paper on top of mouse pad or piece of cardboard to provide some compression and better control of knife angle. Now draw the blade away from the edge, (do not cut into the paper), with only a slight elevation of the back of the blade. 20 strokes on each side and then test the edge. You can use from 800 to 2,000 grit paper. Start coarse IF there is more than just polishing required.

You can purchase these knives in the Crowley’s Ship’s Store or online by clicking here.

Thursday, September 20

Picture of the Week - September 20, 2012

2012 Farr 40 Worlds - Day 3, Start 2
The 2012 Farr 40 Worlds being held off of Chicago, IL. Heavy breeze tested competitors and boats alike. After 8 of 10 races local boat Flash Gordon is winning the regatta by 13 points over the defending champion Transfusion.

Newsletter Update

Dear Readers
Last winter Crowley’s weekly newsletter, Lakeside Story, was born out of a desire to connect the boating community in Chicago in new and different way. We discussed publishing monthly or weekly and finally decided that if we were going to make the commitment to the community, we would provide more meaningful articles in a weekly newsletter. So, weekly it has been.
Our hope is that you, the boaters of Chicago, are enjoying the newsletter. It wouldn’t go out each week without help from across the boatyard. Various people provide pictures of the week and ideas for the articles that you read. A couple of guys do the proofreading and without them, the articles that you read would certainly be more cumbersome.
As the end of the boating season approaches, we want to put to you a question. What articles do you want to read over the winter? My vote is to send me to the Caribbean to report on the winter boating activities there. Some have suggested that we follow some projects through the shops over the winter so that you can have some insight into the process of winter boat repairs. Let us know your article ideas and we will do our best to get them written.
As you have noticed, we have changed from our original format of structured articles each month. Having flexibility to publish different stories, I think, has led to more interesting topics. Hopefully, you agree.
In response to a reader’s suggestion, we started adding the picture of the week to our blog, The Crowley Advisor, in a larger format so that you can actually see what is going on in the picture. Keep the suggestions coming so that we can continue to upgrade our newsletter and blog. Also, send along your boating upcoming events so that we can include them in our newsletter.
Andrew Spaulding
Editor, Lakeside Story

Wednesday, September 12

Picture of the Week - September 12, 2012

Farr 40 being weighed at Crowley's Yacht Yard

As part of the 2012 Farr 40 World Championship all of the boats need weighing and measuring. Using a centerpoint lift Farr 40 Class Measurer Andrew Williams ensures a fair regatta.

20 Questions with Jon Paige - Rigging Department Manager

Jon Paige
1. How long have you worked at Crowley’s? 3 and ½ years

2. How did you first start working here?  I was in the process of moving to Chicago from Bermuda and applied for a position with the rigging department.

3. Which departments have you worked in? Only Rigging.

4. What is your favorite time of year at Crowley’s?  Right about now; we get a chance to breathe and get (somewhat) organized for the Fall.

5. How often do you go boating? No-where near enough!

6. What kind of boat? Usually, any racing sailboat.

7. Did you grow up boating? Yes.  My Grandfather was a very keen sailor and first took me sailing when I was about 3 years old.

8. What is your favorite boating activity?  Sailboat racing.

9. How many technicians work in your department?  3 full-time, with seasonal staff for the spring and fall.

10. How often do they go to training?  We try to get them on at least one training course each year.

11. What job specific training do you have?  I went to University in England to study Boatbuilding and Yacht Design.  I have also attended courses at Harken and Navtec.  I also have 5 years as a boat-builder and 12 years as a Yacht Rigger.

12. What certifications do you have?  Certifications are rare in Yacht Rigging, but I am certified to repair Navtec hydraulics.

13. What is your number one recommendation to boat owners? The engine, head and electronics are not the only things that require regular maintenance; don’t forget the mast, rigging, winches and sails.

14. In your area of expertise, what can a boat owner do to maintain their boat?  Give the rig a quick visual check every time you use the boat to make sure everything is in place.  Have the rig unstepped and inspected at least once every 3 years.  Winches should be serviced every year.

15. What is the owner complaint that you hear most often? “My furling mainsail/genoa is not furling properly.”  Furling mainsails in particular can be very tricky to operate if they are not handled properly; keep a little tension on the outhaul as you furl, otherwise the sail furls too loosely inside the mast and jams.  Boom height is also important.

16. What is your number one money saving tip for boat owners?  Remove your running rigging (including the halyards) for the winter.  It is possible to wash the lines and it will prolong their life drastically.

17. What is the toughest part of your job? The long, busy spring season.

18. When are you most likely to be found in the harbors?  On the really tough rigging repairs.

19. What is your favorite winter activity?  Visiting my family in England.

20. What is the best way to get a hold of you to ask a question?  Email me anytime:


Wednesday, September 5

Picture of the Week - September 5, 2012

Bowline wrapped around a propeller shaft.

Due to some quick action this boat was saved from sinking. I've know many others that weren't as lucky. A dock line wrapped around the propeller bent the shaft and pulled the strut right out of the boat. 
Always exercise caution before putting your transmission into forward or reverse. Look for lines, debris in the water, swimmers and other hazards. One of the hardest lines to see from the helm station of a sailboat or powerboat is the bow line. My advice - make sure it cannot reach the propeller!

Fall Checklist

Wow, Labor Day was here and is gone which is a sure sign summer is almost over. I don’t know about you, but this summer went by far too quickly for me. Now that fall is upon us, it’s time to think about what needs to happen to the boat over the winter.
During the last few boating days of the season, make a list of all of the things that you want fixed, improved or otherwise, over the winter. It is easier to remember all of the little things that are bugging you while you are still using the boat.
The following is a list of questions that you can ask yourself on your last few boating trips. Lots of times these types of items that often end up on the spring list of work rather than on the fall list. Many of these items can be addressed over the winter, particularly if we have another one like last year.
Engines: Is the operating temperature and rpm’s the same as in the spring? Have belts started slipping? Did you have to fill up the oil mid-season? Have you noticed oil in the bilge this season? Are there any hoses or hose clamps dripping?
Systems: Does the fresh water pump operate more often than in the spring? Is the head more difficult to pump? Are there worse head odors in the boat? Does water run back in the bilge after you pump it out? Do the stove burners work as well? Are the electronics all working? Does the steering feel sloppy? Are the batteries staying charged? Does the air conditioning and refrigeration get as cold?
Rigging: Do you have any chaffed lines? When is the last time you had a rigging inspection or the mast removed from the boat? Is the furler as easy to operate? Do the winches spin easy? Are the clutches holding? Do you have any cam cleats where one side stopped working? Are there any bent pins or shackles on your main sheet?
Paint and Gelcoat: Are there any chips or scratches on deck that you want fixed? Any gelcoat voids that popped open over the summer? Did your anchor or mooring can scratch the hull this summer? How about putting in a chafe pad under some deck hardware that is scratching the deck?
Dock lines and ground tackle: Did your anchor windlass work well this summer? Are your dock lines in good condition? Is your anchor chain to anchor rode splice fraying? Does it not go through the windlass as easy as it used to? Does your chain have any rust on it?
Lifelines and rails: Are your lifeline or rail gates in good working condition? Do they open and close properly? Any rust showing on the lifeline fittings?
Of course this isn’t a complete list of all the questions that you should ask yourself, but hopefully it is enough to trigger others in your mind to help you come up with a full work list of items you need addressed on your boat.