Monday, October 6, 2014

Preparing Your Boat to Head South

The following is a list to prepare your boat to head offshore. Even if traveling in the Intracoastal Water Way your boat needs to be prepared for rough weather, groundings, and mechanical breakdowns.

Here is a list of items that I recommend checking and doing before getting underway. This list can be used for power or sail. I am sure there are items I have left out. If you think of other things to add, send me an email. Before I have left on a voyage on my boat or a client's boat I have always performed a full day or two inspection of the boat. It never hurts to hire a professional, such as a marine surveyor, mechanic, and rigger to assist you in ensuring your boat is safe.

All Boats:
  • Have the boat surveyed or inspected if you are not comfortable doing yourself.
  • When was the last time you hauled out? Do you need to paint the bottom?
  • Rudder bearings and seals need to be inspected.
  • Steering cables & pulleys need to be inspected and greased. If a hydraulic system: fill system, bleed and inspect for leaks.
  • Anodes "Zincs" need to be checked.
  • Thu-hull fittings: inspect. Do valves turn freely. Is the valve ball turning along with the handle? 
  • Inspect all hoses and hose clamps.
  • Engine shaft, propellor, and stuffing box need to be inspected.
  • Batteries: inspect, are they holding a charge, are they secured?
  • Ship's compass should be checked and adjusted for deviation.
  • Have the engines serviced.
  • Have generator serviced.
  • Polish the fuel.
  • Ensure you have plenty of spares for your engines.
  • Lifelines: inspect for corrosion. Inspect fittings for cracks.
  • Ground Tackle: inspect your anchoring system. Is your anchor large enough and do you have enough anchors? Practice your anchoring before leaving. Secure all anchors before heading offshore.
  • Inspect dock-lines and fenders.
  • Electronics: ensure all are working and know how to use them.
  • Tools: ensure you have what you will need.

  • Go aloft, or hire a rigger to inspect the rig. Use a Scotch Brite pad to clean fittings and a magnifying glass to inspect all fittings.
  • Inspect the chainplates, above and below deck for corrosion, cracks and water intrusion.
  • All Sails: stitching, reef points should be checked by a sail maker.
  • All running rigging, blocks and  inspected and replaced if necessary. Winches should be serviced.
  • Have a heavy weather plan and practice it before leaving.
  • Carry: spare blocks, line, cotter pins, and seizing wire.

Safety Items to have Aboard:
  • VHF radio, fixed and handheld. Have a handheld VHF in your ditch bag and ensure the battery is charged.
  • Satellite Phone.
  • Barometer.
  • A messenger such as SPOT.
  • AIS: ensure if you have one it is registered.
  • EPIRB: ensure the registration and  battery are up to date.
  • Handheld spotlight.
  • Handheld compass.
  • Binoculars.
  • Life jackets & safety harnesses for all crew members.
  • Inspect jacklines.
  • Whistles for the crew.
  • Strobe-lights for the crew.
  • Man over board pole with flag and life ring or horse shoe with at least  60' of line.
  • Approved fire extinguishers in working order and securely mounted.
  • Assorted flares as required by USCG. Remember this is a minimum. Have more on the boat and in your ditch bag.
  • Marker dye.
  • Hand Held Horn.
  • Signal mirror.
  • Ensure all running lights, spreader lights, navigation lights and masthead strobe are working.
  • Assorted flashlights with spare batteries.
  • Knife.
  • Soft wood plugs readily available.
  • Drinking water.
  • Ensure all pumps are operating. Have a manual bilge pump.
  • Life Raft: ensure it is inspected.
  • Dinghy, with oars.
  • Heaving line.
  • Boarding ladder.
  • First Aid Kit.

Roger Marshall aluminum design built by Howdy Bailey

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Interview With Beth & Evans Of Hawk

This is the first of my interview series for the Metal Boat Quarterly.  I posted this on my Metal Boat Surveyor Blog and thought non metal boat owners might want to read it.  Hawk has been recently put on the market and will be at the 2014 Annapolis Sailboat show.  I recommend reading Beth's books, you will not be disappointed.  Click the titles for more information.

DB: Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger sailed their Shannon 37, Silk on their first circumnavigation in 1992 for three years and 40,000 miles. For their second circumnavigation, they sailed Hawk, a 47-foot aluminum Van de Stadt Samoa design from 1999-2009 through the high latitudes by way of the Great Capes. They have sailed Hawk 75,000 miles.

The first circumnavigation is documented in Beth's book, Following Seas
Stories from their travels on Hawk are in the book, Blue Horizons.
And in my opinion, the best book on outfitting a cruising boat is the Voyager's Handbook, written by Beth Leonard.

You both a very well known in the cruising community, thank you for taking the time to talk to MBQ.

After a circumnavigation on a fiberglass boat why did you chose aluminum for Hawk?

B&E: Most people guess we chose metal for strength, as we planned to go to the high latitudes.  But in fact we picked it because we could make the decks absolutely leak proof.  Our experience with fiberglass decks was that after two or so ocean crossings the boat had worked enough that at least a few of the fasteners through the deck would start leaking. There are zero fastener holes through Hawk's deck. Everything is either welded on, or machine screwed to blind tapped plates that are welded on.

We picked aluminum over steel both because it is less maintenance, and because it can produce a better performing/sailing boat.  You just don't have to keep after rust the way you do on a steel boat.

We have members building their own boats, you chose to have a hull built for you by Topper Hermanson and to finish the boat yourself. At what point of construction did you take delivery? 

From the outside the boat looked complete - deck hardware and mast all installed.  Inside it was close to a bare hull.  The foam was sprayed in, and the major bulkheads were in and the engine was installed, and I installed a head and two sea bunks, but otherwise it was just a bare foam cave.  We had an igloo cooler for food and I strung up some lines as hand grips to get to the head and sea bunks. And we sailed it like that offshore from Florida up to Annapolis.  She sailed very, very well, and Evans tried to talk Beth into just adding a couple beanbag chairs and going like that, but Beth insisted on a galley and settees and nav deck and proper storage, etc.

How long did it take to complete?
Evans had done some furniture building in school, so he knew what was involved to do a really fancy interior. He told Beth that we could take five years to do a really fancy interior with dovetails and hidden joints, or we could put a practical, easy-to-clean and easy-to-maintain interior in in less than a year. We both decided we preferred sailing to boatbuilding – which is not always the case. We have met many people who took years to build a boat, and when they got out there they discovered they really did not like cruising. We knew we loved cruising and wanted to get back to it as soon as possible.

In the end, the hull took two years, and then it took us about nine months to do the interior. Then we untied the docklines and sailed up to Newfoundland.

Beth I remember you saying this was your first experience with using power tools?

Yes. I had no experience using power tools, and was more than a little intimidated when Evans got sent off on a three-month trip to Russia leaving me to put in the ceilings. But instead of even getting to work on the ceilings, I spent most of the summer with an electric bread knife in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity in the Chesapeake carving off the excess foam insulation. By the time we were finished, I was pretty comfortable with more than just bread knives – I got used to handling radial arm saws, band saws, and drills.

What did you use for insulation on Hawk?

Three inches of sprayed-on fire resistant closed cell foam, with a paint barrier over it to prevent moisture getting to it.  It has worked perfectly and is still perfect today.  It does not seem to have absorbed any significant/noticeable amount of water.  The only thing we would differently is to try to get a contractor who could have sprayed it on more smoothly.

Evans could you tell us about your choice of bulk head material?

The whole boat interior is made of cored panels.  There are various cores (honeycomb and foam) and various skins (Mahogany and fiberglass) used in different applications.  These panels were about 3x the cost of plywood, but made the boat lighter, and are totally rot resistant, and are much easier to handle during construction.

How did you isolate the dissimilar metals on deck?

Mostly we used Phenolic pads and bushings.  Where we screwed into blind tapped holes we used helicoils set in red loctite.  

The topsides of Hawk are not painted., which can be a benefit of aluminum hulls. Have you been happy with this choice?

Absolutely, one of the two best things about the boat (the other is the hard dodger).  Bare topsides takes absolutely all the stress out of docking along pilings and rough fuel docks.  You just don't have to worry about dinging them up.  We often come alongside docks with no fenders down and just put them in place after we are tied up. One of Evans’ few regrets is that we did paint the coachroof and dodger. But Beth preferred that, even in retrospect, since she doesn’t do the maintenance. Bare aluminum is blisteringly hot in the tropics.

What was your paint system for the bottom and deck paint?

The boat was sand blasted and then a couple coats of a Devoe epoxy metal primer, and then the bottom paint (we were originally using a tin based paint when it was still legal, but are now using Pacifica Plus), and the deck paint is a factory floor coating (Durabek) which is a very nice and durable non-skid but does not look very 'yachty'.

You have a Van De Stadt Somoa design, what are some of your favorite things about this design?

The hard dodger is the design's single best feature. It looks nice and offers excellent protection. That is a surprisingly rare combination.  Other than that, the boat sails really well, almost at race boat performance levels and much better than the vast majority of cruising boats.

Is there anything you would change about the design?

We would have gotten a slightly smaller boat, perhaps 42', if we could have but this was the smallest design that had the 'perfect' hard dodger.

Do you have any advice for maintaining an aluminum boat or a cruising boat in general?

That is a huge topic. Generally we made a fundamental decision to keep the boat extremely simple.  This vastly reduced both the initial cost and the ongoing maintenance work load and we have never missed any of the 'conveniences' we left off.  That goes double with an aluminum boat, where the single best thing you can do is keep the electrical system extremely simple, especially with minimal AC current.  This avoids the potential problems aluminum can have with bad electrical systems.

Just to give you an idea, we don’t have a watermaker, refrigeration, pressure water, A/C, SSB, powered winches, or an installed generator. Since most of our sailing has been in cold water, we use the bilge to keep food cold most of the time. We use  hand and foot pumps for water, and we have a Refleks drip diesel heater that gravity feeds out of its own tank. All of that means that we have minimal electrical draw which allows us to have a very simple electrical installation but with lots of battery capacity.

Do you have any suggestions about outfitting a boat for cruising, and anything in particular related to an aluminum boat?

Keep it simple is our best advice. Beyond that, keep it affordable. We see way too many people who end up with more boat than they can afford and not enough money to go cruising. Far better to downsize the boat at the start than to end up having to sell it because you can’t afford to keep and maintain it.

You two are not cruising full time now and Hawk is moored near Annapolis Maryland. Could you tell us about what you two are up now, and what plans you might have?

We have four parents all alive, between 75 and 85, and we want to stay close by where we can help them until they all pass away.  So, Beth is working as Director of Technical Services at BoatUS, and Evans has been CEO of two start-ups, and has been sailing up to Newfoundland for the summers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Winterizing Your Boat

For the boaters who are not heading south, it is, or will soon be time to haul your boat and winterize. This is also a good time of year for boaters in areas that do not need to winterize to do an inspection of their boats.  Boat US has provided some great information this month on winterizing your boat.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Thanks Ocean Navigator!

About once a month I get around to reading the boating magazine blogs. One of the ones I read is the Ocean Navigator blog. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw my name mentioned in a post titled "Thermal imaging for corrosion detection". I thank the folks at Ocean Navigator for picking up on my my use of IR for inspecting embedded/glassed in chainplates.

In the early 90s, we at Marine Metals built a Peterson designed schooner for Ocean Navigator Magazine named Ocean Star. It was one of my favorite boats we built. Everyone from the magazine was wonderful to work with. For a few years after the schooner was launched she would sail into Little Creek inlet in Norfolk, VA. It was like having a child come home for a visit. She always had a great crew aboard and I cherish that time in my life. Ocean Star is now a Seamester at Sea Boat.

In Praise of the Amateur Boat Builder

Building a boat can be a daunting task. Whether one wants a small project such as a dinghy or a large yacht, it takes careful planing and determination. Building a boat can also be one of the most rewarding achievements for anyone to do. You will be challenged, your body will hurt, some days you might be frustrated, but the rewards are great.  For example, taking your child for a row or sail in a dinghy you built to setting sail on your first cruise in your cruising boat. Or maybe you will be setting off on a race campaign in that go fast sailboat you built. 

I have seen a quite a few projects end unfinished. The causes are many; money, 
health,  lack of desire.  Building a boat should not be taken lightly. It is a big commitment. 
I am happy to say I have seen many projects end in success.  Some of them have been funky character boats, well found cruising boats, to works of art wood boats.

I have seen amateur built boats where the builder has made serious mistakes in construction and design changes or not applying ABYC and other professional standards. But I want to concentrate on the positive side of amateur building and how, if done correctly, an amateur can achieve a boat of professional quality. 

My father Howdy Bailey, was an amateur builder in 1970 when he built his first boat, a 50' ferro cement ketch. He cruised on this boat for ten years and over 70,000 miles. He sold the boat in 1984 and is still owned by that buyer and is in very good condition. In 1984 my father, an experienced pipe fitter and metal worker,started building boats professionally after building a few metal boats to fund the cruising kitty.

Yacht designer Dudley Dix refers to himself as an amateur builder even though he has quite a few boats under his belt now. One of my favorite designs of Dudley's is his Didi 38,  Black Cat, that he built and has raced in the Cape To Rio race. Reuel Parker, like my father, built a ferro cement sailboat that he cruised from the west coast to the east coast and through the Caribbean. Reuel later became a professional yacht designer and builder. Reuel has built many cold molded boats inspired by traditional designs built with modern materials. Metal boat designers Tom Colvin and Merritt Walters have built their own boats. Merritt Walters later went on to build charter boats of his designs professionally.  Multihull designers Jim Brown and John Marples, both have built boats for themselves. 

My father was contacted by someone interested in building his first boat. The design was one that we were getting ready to build at the yard. A 55' sailboat designed by William Frank. The builder had never built a boat before and was wanting to hire my father and some of our crew to mentor him.  The builder and a friend built the boat with the interior and wood deck houses being constructed by his father. The result is Camaraderie was one of the  beautiful boats I have ever seen constructed by an amateur. To see a video of Camaraderie's sister ship Pasha built by Howdy Bailey click here:


I recently surveyed a steel sailboat, a Dudley Dix designed, Vickers 46. The boat was built in South Africa on a farm miles away from water. The boat was built by an experienced metal worker and his wife. They knew little about boats or how to build a one. Even though he knew about working with metal, he had to teach himself about wood working to build the interior. The result is a boat that appears was built at a professional's yard. Occasionally I do come across boats like this and it makes me smile. Are we seeing the start of a new carrier for this builder now that he has sold his beloved cruising boat?

I know of another amateur builder I met at the Metal Boat Festival and then again at IBEX. He is a black smith by trade. He is building a Dix 43 aluminum pilot house design in Tennessee. He has approached this project on a professional level. I look forward to seeing it in person one day. Here is a link to his  blog:

 Last winter I  surveyed a Marples designed trimaran. The boat was built by amateurs with the input of the designer, John Marples. I could not see any signs that this boat was an amateur build. I have seen other multihull projects like this one and I applaud the builders.

Every spring I conduct the haul out on a Crocker 38 cutter skippered by a friend of mine. Every year I sand and paint the hull topsides and marvel at the construction of this yacht. I have been told she was built by a custom home builder in a shop on his property. I have been told this was not his first boat, I wonder is he still continuing with this hobby?

These are examples of amateur builders who have gone beyond just building a boat and have achieved boats of professional quality and . There are plenty of boats that been built and are being built that are attractive and well built. There are great boats built by the members of the metal boat society, and other boat building groups. Two that come to mind are have been built by the previous  president and the current president of the Metal Boat Society. There are plenty of projects being built out there by families. Like a Robert's Spray of ply and epoxy construction being built by a father and son. The father is in his 90s. Now that is inspirational!

No matter what level of finish or what size of boat you building. Follow the designers plans, if wanting to make changes, give them a call. I would like to end this with some suggestions. Learn all you can about the type of construction you will be using.  Hire a professional to mentor you. Hire a marine surveyor to inspect the construction and systems. It helps if the surveyor has a back ground in boat building.
Most of all, have fun!


Friday, July 11, 2014

DBYS Newsletter Issue 2

Here is issue 2 of my newsletter I sent out in June. If wanting to sign up for the news letter you can do so on my website:

Dylan Bailey's Yacht Surveying And Consulting

In This Issue

  • IR Chainplate Inspections
  • Boating Safety 
  • Metal Boat Festival And More

Website Refresh

Check out our new look at:
About Dylan:


Chainplate Inspections

In the last newsletter I reported on my use of thermal imaging for the inspection of embedded/glassed in chainplates. I have conducted more inspections over the past two months with good results. To read more about these inspections, go to my blog:

Boating Safety

One of the busiest boating weekends has passed 
and the summer boating season has started throughout the country. 
All boaters should not only pay close attention to the condition of their boat's systems when commissioning their boat in the spring, but all summer long. 
This does not only include maintaing your 
engine/engines, but all of your hoses, thru-hull valves, electrical connections, lifelines, rigging, and ensuring all of your safety gear is up to date. Here is a link for the USCG requirements:



This was the title of one of the best articles I have read in Professional Boat Builder Magazine. The article was written by yacht designer Dudley Dix.
 I have built and sailed on Dudley's boats and own one. 
Not only is he a very talented designer, he is also a
 amateur builder, and experienced racer. 
If you are in the industry you can get a subscription to Pro Boat here:
To read Dudley's account of the capsize on his blog go here:

Metal Boat Festival 2014

The metal boat festival: The board members have been busy planning this year's Metal Boat Festival. We have a good line up of speakers for this year. My talk this year will be on paint systems for metal boats.
If interested in metal boats, this is the place to be. I can not think of a better place to be in August than Annacortes, Washington, the home of the Metal Boat Festival. A scenic ferry ride will take you to the San Juan Islands.  If you are coming to the Festival plan on a trip to the San Juan Islands, you will not be disappointed.

Spring Metal Boat Quarterly Interview

My first interview for a series I am doing for the  Metal Boat Quarterly was with writers/cruising sailors, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger. I will be posting my interviews on my Metal Boat Blog after they are released in the Metal Boat Quarterly.

Applying Infrared Thermography To Marine Surveying

Recently I attended a two day seminar on Applying Infrared Thermography To Marine Surveying hosted by ARIS INC. It was a very rewarding two days of hands on field work and class room instruction. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

More Glassed In/Embedded Chainplates

In April I surveyed a Sea Tiger Ketch. The main mast chainplates were glassed in.
I used Thermal Imaging to inspect the chainplates, along with visual inspection. Signs of corrosion were sighted weeping from around the bolt on one of the chainplates. Thermal Imagining helped determine the extent of the corrosion and moisture. The photos below are from that inspection. The last photo was sent by the owner after removing some of the fiberglass. Note the corrosion.

Areas Of Moisture 

Areas Of Moisture And Corrosion

Visual Inspection Indicated Corrosion

One Of The Chainplates After Removal Of Some Of The Fiberglass

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DBYS News Letter

In March I put out the first newsletter for DBYS. This will be a bimonthly newsletter of findings and information related to the marine industry. Here is the first issue of the newsletter.

Dylan Bailey's Yacht Surveying

Issue 1



Detecting trapped moisture around embedded chainplates
In October I was asked by Beth Leonard of Boat US if Thermal Imaging could help determine the condition of embedded chainplates. I had not tried, but I am always up for a challenge!

It did work to detect trapped moisture. Should you remove you're chainplates if trapped moisture is found? My answer is yes! Although it does not always mean you will find corrosion, but I would hope you would sleep better at night, I know I would.

For more information on using thermal imaging on chainplate inspections read my blog. I will posting information on the inspections later this week.

Boat US did an alert in their Sea Worthy Magazine about embedded chainplates, to read click below.

Upcoming Presentations

On March 12th Jack Allinson and I will be giving a talk to the East Coast Sailing Association in Melbourne, FL, about the benefits of using thermal imaging on boats.
March 20th I will be speaking to the North Florida Cruising Club
I am honored to speak to this group that is based in the area of the St. Johns River that I learned to sail on. For information on the presentation see the links below.
Once again on March 22, Jack Allinson and I will be at it again. We will be giving the talk that we did at IBEX last year.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Inspection Of Embedded/Glassed In Chainplates


How do you go about determining what the condition of your embedded chainplates are in? There is not a magic window we can peer into. Two options are to X Ray the chainplates and Thermal Imaging. Since I have not seen the X Ray images in person I can not give much comment. From what I have seen posted online, I am skeptical if it can pick up on the hair line cracks that can form in the stainless. With Thermal Imaging we can not see the chain plate per-say, but see the trapped moisture. If salt water is trapped against the stainless then crevice corrosion can begin.

In the January edition of Boat US Seaworthy magazine there was an alert written to inform the boat owner of this type of inspection and the concern of embedded chainplates.

Below are images from an inspection of an Irwin.
I was able to follow the removal of the chainplates and inspect them after the were removed. Four out of the six suffered from crevice corrosion.  

                                                Trapped Moisture



and then cut in half:

You can see the small amount of good metal left in the chainplate.

I have also done an inspection on an Irwin that had trapped moisture and the owner reported that the chainplates, when removed did not have any corrosion. Most likely this boat had only fresh water trapped around the chainplates.

Image from the exterior indicating trapped moisture.