June 28, 2009

One More Geek Sailor Entry

Those of you who have labored aboard Smitten know that the winches are an integral part of the sailing system, used to provide leveraged energy to unfurl, trim and furl the sails. We've probably put you to work cranking away on one, tightening the sheets for maximum sail pressure. Or you may've seen the winches at rest, performing the more mundane chore of keeping the sheets, halyards and lines organized, as one is doing here:

I'll take this opportunity to explain the term "sheets" as it relates to sailing. A lot of people, myself included before I got some learnin', assume that "sheets" refers to the sails. Logical enough assumption, the sails are (often) white and cloth-like and long and wide. "Sheets" seems like an appropriately affectionate nickname for another valued element of the sailing equation. But "sheets" actually is an all-purpose word for the ropes that connect to and control the sails. For example, when we hand you that rope with the red thread woven through it, and ask you to pull, you are using one of the jib sheets to manipulate the jib sail from one side of the boat to the other during a tack. (Stick with me, kid, we'll make a virtual sailor out of you eventually.)

(BTW, for those of you who find yourselves described by friends and acquaintances as "three sheets to the wind" with puzzling frequency, and wonder what it means, click here.)

So anyway. Of the four winches on Smitten, we depend very heavily on two, and somewhat lightly on one. The fourth is a total bum, only along for the ride. It was the two heavily-depended-upon that we tore apart a few weeks ago for a clean and lube:

There must be 45 pieces to each one of these, all fitting together like a Swiss watch. Dave has done this drill enough to know how they come apart and go back together (with some back-tracking and second-guessing), but I admit I was baffled. So I was put in charge of the WD-40 bath we set up in that Trader Joe's coffee can. A smelly task. Not the coffee's fault. But with a little soaking followed by a good terry cloth rubdown, all 45 (x2) pieces got a thorough degreasing.

It should be noted that the yellow of my foul weather bib overalls in the picture above is the exact same color as the Porsche Boxster that I'm adamant will be living in my parking spot at some point in the future.

Now the pieces start going back together, along with about seven different types and weights of lubricant. Place was starting to look like that shelf at the Walgreen's. Oh, don't get coy with me, you know which shelf:

Then the winch stem gets a good going-over:

And everything starts to fit back together:


Hey look! A little buff-up and we got our winch back, better than new:

It ain't over til the crank test is done:

Yup! Contact!

Ok, for cryin' out loud aleady, let's go sailing.

No comments: