2011: Deltaville, VA
Dodger Side Curtains. We had had made for us, some years ago in the Caribbean, side curtains of shade cloth for the bimini – I have written about them before in glowing terms. Between the bimini and dodger there is also a joining piece and there are side curtains for that as well. These particular side curtains are great but don’t keep out the sea when bashing to windward, for example. So I made some sunbrella screens that we clip onto these side curtains when sailing in wet weather – they did the job and kept out a lot of water that would otherwise have wet us in the cockpit.
Locking the Steering Wheel. We have a Hydrovane wind vane self-steering gear that steers the boat all by itself and the main rudder steering is locked. I have a steering lock as part of the wheel steering arrangement and, to be frank, it has never worked well ie it’s pretty weak and one can fairly easily turn the wheel by hand. You also have to rotate the knob on the break which is very slow to take up. I therefore came up with a block and tackle arrangement, quite light weight as the steering is quite light, which I will try to describe here.
I attached with chord a block with cam cleat to each side of the steering wheel and shackled two other blocks (one for each side) to a u bolt that I bolted to the cockpit floor at the middle base of the steering pedestal. I ran lines connecting the respective blocks at the bottom of the pedestal to the blocks on each side of the steering wheel. I could lock the steering wheel centrally in an instant by using the cam cleats and, just as easily, make slight adjustments to the wheel to allow, for example, weather helm. All this is necessary to balance the boat as best you can so that Mr Hydrovane can steer the boat with his (much smaller) rudder. It is also easy to disconnect the steering lock and steer the boat using the wheel if, say, you need to manoeuvre quickly to avoid something.