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Consigli di Rod Stephens: PONTE
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1. Cockpit Seat Hatches: A most common fault is leaky cockpit seat hatches which allow a great deal of water to get below, made more troublesome by the current tendency towards very flat midship sections. While it is difficult to build a really tight hatch, reasonable gasketing can help a lot, and, most important, large capacity drains to minimize the time during which the hatch seams are under pressure.

2. Dorade Vents: The so-called Dorade vents have been copied in many unfortunate ways, characterized by boxes which are too low, cowl vents superimposed on the boxes which, in turn, are too low and/or too small, and boxes are almost invariably incorrectly scuppered. Scuppers should be in the after face, which is the most sheltered surface of the conventional Dorade box. Further, these vents should never be screened as the use of screens greatly reduces the ventilation provided and insects do not go through them with or without screens.

3. Spongy Life Lines: particularly characteristic of glass fibre boats, and largely a by-product of inadequate diagonal bracing on pulpits and pushpits and gangways, are further troubled by inadequate dimensions of the stanchion socket base and then an inadequate pad below deck and occasionally aggravated by stanchions which are too light and which bend in themselves, creating a further fault. Another common fault is the almost universal use of closed barrel turnbuckles and/or turnbuckles without toggles.

4. Gangways: In the side life rail gangways arc inherently dangerous, all too frequently have inadequate diagonal bracing, mentioned above, and have horizontal pelican hooks which if not under a lot of tension can be knocked open merely by passing by. The safest scheme, and the most economical, is to omit side gangways, omission of which can contribute greatly to the safety of the entire life rail.

5. Tiller Details: Since the days of Herreshoff, and later Nevins, there have been relatively few nicely made tillers. The average tiller is too heavy in the grip area and too weak in the hinge fitting which latter takes the greatest load. The end which one holds in hand should be down to one inch diameter with a reasonable ball or knob on the extreme end and the sections should increase with more or less straight taper to appropriate size in way of the hinge fitting.

6. Winch Handle Holders: There are so few boats which have adequate winch handle holders and yet with the present day boats really designed around winches, it is obvious that well located and securely stowed winch handles are an absolute necessity.

7. Cleat Positioning: The correct angling and spacing of cleats with relation to the winch which they arc normally serving can contribute a great deal to the ease and efficiency of handling. To create a simple rule, cleats should be turned ten degrees counter-clockwise from the oncoming line so that the first turn around the cleat is made clockwise just as the turns arc made around the winch. It is desirable to have a minimum of two feet between cleat and winch, though frequently this has to be compromised due to insufficient space.

8. Bow Chocks: Again we have to look back on Herreshoff, and later Ncvins, to find boats built with really useful bow chocks. In general, the chocks are too small, too weak, and edges too sharp, many of them designed apparently with the thought that the line will always pull straight out ahead, whereas in reality it is just about always going downward and may swing to an arc of more or less one hundred and eighty degrees. European boats suffer from rollers, perenially with inadequate and sharp checks which work moderately well for a chain if it's leading straight ahead, but from which the chain can jump if the boat is swung around by the tide as so often occurs. In view of the excellent results that can be gotten froni the inherent spring of nylon anchor ropes it is also important that there be no sharp corners associated with either the chocks or chain rollers.

9. Hatch Covers: In spite of many ingenious arrangements, there are relatively few hatches that are in themselves really tight in extremely bad weather. There is also a desire to get ventilation and the only way that a hatch can be kept watertight and also offer some ventilation in moderately bad conditions is to fit it with a tent type cover which is absolutely tight on each side and across the forward edge. A rabbet to retain the edges of this cover, with a continuous inner lip around three sides of the hatch and with the outer lip simply broken at each corner to facilitate installation of the cover, is a very necessary basic provision in connection with all hatches, with the exception of the lazarette hatch where any small leaking can be much better tolerated and which hatch is located in a basically protected area.

10. Genoa Sheet Tracks: These should have numbers presumably on every fifth location hole and the sliding members should travel easily without having to resort to kicking, the use of a hammer and/or profanity. Best results can be obtained when the locating unit or stop is divorced from the actual sheet lead member. With this arrangement the locating unit can more easily be released and relocated, while the heavily loaded sliding member is temporarily kept just clear by winching it forward just a fraction of an inch. Once the virtue of this arrangement has been experienced, one will never be satisfied to go back to the conventional scheme where the location pins are one with the member that carries the sheet itself.

11. Compass Alignment: This should be considered a pretty simple detail, but is seldom right on the mark and frequently visibility can be improved and forces that cause deviation reduced by raising the compass, which at the same time makes it far more suitable for taking bearings.

12. Compass Deviation: With further regard to securing a good compass, the use of built-in correctors should be avoided as, frequently, the initial compass errors that arc observed are merely the result of these correctors and all too often they are improperly locked so their position may be inadvertently changed which can create a serious error. A properly located compass, in other than a steel hull can frequently be 'dead-beat' with no magnets at all and this is, by all odds, the best ar-rangement. Instruments must be kept somewhat further from the compass than the instrument manufacturers optimistically suggest. The same applies to such things as fire extinguishers, magnetic curtain rods or possibly bows for bridge deck companionway hoods, as well as many stainless or chrome plated winches.

13. Mast Coats: How few boats have really effective and tight mast coats, but it is basically pretty simple, demanding the use of neoprene as a water barrier and then a protecting coat of Dacron to protect the neoprene from the deterioration created by sunlight. The most vulnerable joint is where the upper end of the coat fits around the mast itself and the extra long stainless steel hose clamp, in turn protected by the Dacron cover and backed up with some of the good silicone sealer can make an absolutely tight joint. The mast surface must be smooth. If the mast must be removed, the joint should be opened around the deck collar without disturbing the seal around the mast which, as stated, is the more difficult one to keep absolutely tight.

14. Spinnaker Pole Chocks: These are frequently less than optimum-the right type has a sort of streamlined sheath that fits over the inboard end of the pole and then the outboard end is held in place using its own latch. The pole should be placed where it interferes least with the usable deck space. The old fashioned saddles, each located about a quarter of the way in from the ends of the pole, leave pole ends vulnerable, which not only can cause a bad tack, but may actually tear the spinnaker pole from its chocks, and the pole can easily be lost overboard.

15. Boat Hooks: In general, similar provision must be made for a boat hook, certainly on deck forward, and for a jockey pole, in an out of the way place. Where possible, it's a good practice to stow the jockey pole below deck, though handy to the forward hatch.

Rod Stephens,
Problem Areas, in: Yachting World Annual, 1973, pagg. 43 e segg.

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