"PLANESONG" – Bernard Holland

  • 26 Aug 2011 06:20
    Message # 685103
    Bernard has sent me these notes, being, he says, not very good at coping with websites, and there are some ideas that might be of interest to you:

             My boat, PLANESONG, is basically a copy of Joshua Slocum's

    SPRAY, with the lines taken from "Sailing Alone Around the World" by

    Bill Dixon, and then the upperworks and internal arrangements

    specified by myself, and the sail plan produced by Alan Boswell almost

    20 years ago.   The hull is steel,   the masts were diverted from

    telephone poles (wooden).  the displacement on launching was 22

    tonnes, of which one and a half tonnes were the masts, three and a

    half tonnes were lead in the box keel, and the remainder was the hull

    and machinery, etc..

             Building time over-ran by 2 years and 2 months, and it was

    the 2 months that was critical, as it meant that I missed all my

    carefully planned weather windows.   At that time (1991), weather

    patterns were still behaving fairly predictably, but I decided to sail

    on my original plan, anyway, and in many ways it worked pretty well,

    but there were many more delays as we went along, and the whole

    adventure has been great fun.

             The overall length is 39 ft. with a beam of 14'9''.   Draft

    aft is 5' and forward is 4'.   Freeboard is only 13", but the side

    decks are the best part of 2' wide, and the lower edge of the round

    portholes in the sides of the coachhouse are 12" above the side decks,

    as is the sill of the sliding doors each side of the wheelhouse.

    With the portholes bolted shut, and the whellhouse door edges fitted

    with seals all round, and the ventilators sealed, and the four Goiyot

    hatches secured shut, there is sufficient buoyancey in the wheelhouse

    and the coachroof to float the vessel, so she should be selfrighting

    from the inverted position.

             There is an inverted L shaped davit each side of the

    wheelhouse pivoted so that it stowes in a clip at the forward corner

    when not in use, the triple sheaved handybilly plumbs just outside the

    bulwark and rubbing strake when athwartships, and when swung aft it is

    at the centre of the wheelhouse door.   There is a lock to keep the

    davit in each of the three positions.   The upper block is fitted with

    a cam-cleat.   The bulwarks all round the boat are 24" high.   This

    means that in a man overboard situation, the davit is swung out and

    locked in the outboard position;  the sixfold purchase handybilly is

    hooked on,  the casualty is brought alongside and

    hooked on to the bottom block of the handybilly and can now be raised

    with just one hand.   On getting 'two blocks' and secured with the

    camcleat, the hoister has both hands free to lift the victims legs

    over the bulwark, unlock the davit and swing the victim aft into the

    centre of the wheelhouse door aperture, when the camcleat is

    disengaged and the victim is pulled inside the wheelhouse as he is

    lowered away.   I have never had to use this in anger, but for taking

    jerry cans of water up out of the dinghy, and for getting stuff up

    from ground level on the hardstanding, the system has been extremely


             All my through hull fittings have been fitted with a three

    way cock.   In normal operation, the flow is from the sea leg to the

    horizontal leg - or vice versa, depnding on whether it is an inlet or

    an outlet.   If a blockage occurs, the straight through leg can have

    an extension pipe screwed into it to extend it above the waterline.

    The cock can now be turned so that there is now a straight through

    passage from the open end of the extension pipe to the sea, and a

    suitable rod can be pushed straight through to clear barnacles, jelly

    fish, netting or whatever has been sucked in to cause the blockage.

    If the extension pipe is not in the way of anything else, it need not

    be removed after the obstruction is cleared, in which case a cap or a

    plug could be screwed in or on as a precaution.   If the extention

    must be removed, then it would be wise to fit the cap or plug directly

    to the vacant connection on the three way cock.

             When I am at sea, I always have handy in the wheelhouse, a

    'mini hacksaw' fitted with a new blade and a lanyard to tie it to my

    wrist, and also a facemask.   This is my equipment for clearing fouled

    propellers.   Many people carry a knife, but a slipping or skidding

    knife could cause quite a wound, and quite apart from anything else,

    blood in shark infested waters is the last thing you need.   Also, I

    picked up a cargo lifting net in the Malacca Strait, and this was

    composed of about 8mm nylon and 8mm steel wire rope.   The minihacksaw

    was able to cut through both these very quickly and if it had slipped

    to 'bite' me, hopefully it would have been a very small wound.

             Getting back on board is very easy, as my 'rubbing strake'

    is wood running along each side at gunwhale level, about 2" wide and

    3.5" high, and it is mounted on U section brackets welded to the side

    which hold the strakes about 0.75" off the side.   When swimming in

    the sea, it is very easy to hold onto a rubbing strake with fingers

    down the gap, swing the other arm up to grasp the top of the bulwark,

    and then to swing a foot up onto the ribbing strake and use it as a

    step while hauling up on the bulwark top with both hands,

              I have had great difficulty with Halyards.   I started with

    triple sheaved blocks on the yard and at deck level, taking the tail

    to a standard Lewmar winch which needed 3 or 4 turns to be taken

    around it.   Each turn leads to one twist in the rope.   These twist

    lead to the whole purchase of 6 ropes twisting up producing enormous

    friction and inability to 'lower away' and the glorious advantage of

    getting sail off in a hurry.  This a somewhat solved by reducing to

    double blocks instead of triple ones, but I was still not able to get

    my fore yard down when the wind increased to force 12 going up the

    east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.   Eventually the yard

    broke and I was able to get down the pieces!   I think that I have now

    solved the problem completely by getting a 'Setemar' winch, which only

    requires half a turn to be taken on it, but I have not had a chance to

    really prove it yet.   Unfortunately they are no longer in production

    but I believe they were fitted to the Jubilee Trust ships, 'Lord

    Nelson' comes to mind.

    These winches are two speed and two direction, you can pay out as well

    as heave in by winding the handle so avoiding the dreadful procedure

    of rendering the rope by slipping it around the winch drum.

             Battens;  my original battens were grp tubes on the side

    against the mast, and 'cosmetic' plastic tubes on the other side.

    Going across the Bay of Biscay in a mere force 8 or 9, I broke a lot

    of these, and stopped off in Cyprus to get replacements shipped out,

    getting sufficient to replace the broken grp ones and all the plastic

    ones.   Going down the Red Sea, I suffered more breakages and this

    time I was able to observe how they were breaking - they were actually

    being flattened against the mast into an oval cross- section.   In

    Bombay I met a gentleman in the Royal Bombay Yacht Club who made grp

    pipes for chemical plants, and he offered to spin up pipes to sleave

    inside my battens so that the wall thickness was more than doubled.

    And that was the end of my batten problems - even in 74 knots of wind.

             Elvestrom dinghy bailers;  I have fitted on on each side of

    my wheelhouse in the vertical sides.  These are normally locked shut,

    but if I get a dollop of water in through a door, I just snap open the

    leeward one and drain out all but the last dregs before a final mop


             Since arriving in Hong Kong, I have fitted plate bilge keels

    to try to reduce leeway which I estimated at about 20 degrees.   These

    also have the advantage of being able to take the ground with reduced

    heel, but I think it may mean a reduction in the ability to slide down

    40' waves, and so a reduction in seaworthiness.   I have also

    increased my rudder size by about 70%, for which I have fitted an

    outer ring to my steering wheel.   Hong Kong is famous for termites,

    and they have eaten my wooden masts!   I have got Amercan Flag Pole

    replacements (which only weigh half a tonne) and have made new mast

    steps for them, but still have to weld them in place.

             So far this year has been largely 'wasted' waiting for and

    eventually getting a prostate operation, but I am now fully recovered

    and am due to fly back to Hong Kong to rejoin my boat at the beginning

    of September.   It sounds as though it has been very hot and very wet

    for all the summer, and for the last few years it has been in the 30s

    until October / November, so as always, it is always a matter of 'wait

    and see'.

             Well, I hope this may be of some interest.   I will be very

    willing to answer any questions or expand on any subjects if more

    information would be useful.

    If you'd like to ask Bernard any questions, I suggest you email him, in view of my opening remark. His address is in the membership directory.

       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
                                                               - the Chinese Water Rat

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