EMAIL - If you have a question about a Tech Tip, want a copy of the owner's manual or have your name added to the skipper list, then please email me.  Bob P. Schimmel.

Subject - I've preloaded "SJ23 - (Replace this text with your question.)" in the subject line so I can recognize your email as "friendly fire."   Remember to include the Tech Tip number if referencing it.  Don't be afraid to attach a photo (or 10) because a lot of us use different terms for that "framas bracket" you can't figure out!  It sure beats guessing.

WANT TO TALK ABOUT YOUR PROBLEM?   Often speech or a keyboard session is more convenient than email.  Definitely quicker.  If you would like to talk via WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype or Zoom, then send me an email with "SJ23 - contact request" in the title so I can recognize you as "friendly fire!"  (There are lots of whackos out there). 
Please keep in mind there are 5 time zones across this "bit of dirt" we call North America, not to mention the time zones for the guys "down under" and the one fellow in Saudi Arabia.  Scheduling for those two would be a bit difficult.



WANT TO SUBMIT AN IDEA for a NEW TECH TIP? - Images, drawings or photographs are encouraged because like the expression goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. However, if you don't have them, don't let it hold you back. Send me the idea anyway. Between us we'll make it work so everybody benefits.  That's what this is all about.

  • IMAGE FILES - Please try to keep the size of each image file at around 50,000 bytes and in *.jpg or *.gif format. If you can't reduce the size of the image, then email the full size. I have image massaging software. If you have a photograph or drawing, you can "snail mail" it to me for scanning. (Email me and I will send you my snail mail address). If you want your material back, be sure to include a self addressed stamped envelope.

  • TEXT - Describe your modification: purpose, benefit, specifications, construction, parts list, etc as all of it is very helpful when composing a Tip.  Consider the reading audience.

REPORT AN ERROR ON THE WEB SITE - While I like to keep my technical writing skills sharp by publishing these Tech Tips, every once in a while a "mistake" slips through a crack.  Technical writing must be objective and sometimes it is difficult to explain a concept with few words.  It is also difficult to eliminate colloquialism as it creeps into a language to give it colour which presents its own set of problems.  Aside from that, words are sometimes substituted to keep a conversation interesting by eliminating repetition.  Then there are spelling differences in the various versions of the English language.  Do you understand how difficult it to achieve a clear understanding, on a global scale?  In the absence of my buddy Brian who used to proof read my documents, I appreciate receiving the occasional nudge to correct a mistake.  So please don't hesitate to ask for clarification or report an error in a Tech Tip.   Bob P. Schimmel. 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR - A lot of people have asked how I acquired my skills.  Well shortly after our family moved to Canada I helped my uncle build three different ski boats.  Each one lighter, stronger and faster than the previous; speed being the primary motivator!  His last hull was cold molded 1/4" mahogany that beat all others on the lake.  He showed an 11 year old kid techniques that would last a life time.  The tools in his garage were phenomenal for 1959.  Then in 1973 I returned to the Netherlands for a visit and got hooked on sailing when I boarded my aunt & uncle's 10M steel sloop.  It was floating in the canal (Waalseilandsgracht) just outside their house in Amsterdam.  How cool is that.  I was itching to get on the water so my cousin borrowed a club dinghy and showed me how to tack up a channel in Vinkeveense, a group of tiny interconnected "lakes" south of Amsterdam.  I was fascinated by the fact that you could actually sail to your destination.  This is also when I learned about the long sailing lineage in our family, so maybe my interest was inevitable.  At this time I worked in the Canadian arctic at an isolated micro-wave site and later travelled to every community in the NWT installing the telecommunications network, building the "Canadian Dream."  Out on the tundra we almost never had contact with the rest of the world and I was therefore left to my own devices to complete a job.  If something didn't work, I had to fabricate a "makeshift solution" till I could install the permanent device on a later trip.  Boy did I learn a thing or two about logistics, helicopters, navigation on trackless terrain, engines, generators, hydraulics, oil rigs, mechanics, survival in extreme cold, insulation, chemicals, adhesives, scrounging for parts and oh yes, scotch.  Friends I skied with could not understand why I endured the hardship but I was drawn to the adventure.  Many people see a lot of mystique in sailing and perhaps this is another reason that attracted me to the sport.  On the other hand, I can't ski in the summer so I had to find something else to do with water besides SCUBA dive in it!  Unlike aircraft maintenance that demands an expensive certified specialist, mucking about in sailboats allows me to solve some complex problems quite inexpensively.  Besides, I love to fine tune things to squeeze the most performance out of it.  So it's not surprising that I "dabble" in sailboats today.

Regardless of what it was, sailing is unlike any other sport because it demands the person to have the most complete range of skills.  If you are a solo sailor you must be a helmsman, be sensitive to the wind for good sail trim and be agile enough to change the sails to match wind strength.  You must also be a meteorologist to read the local weather and waves and compare them with the forecast.  Plus you have to be both a navigator and a tactician to use a forecast to your advantage.  You must also be a cook to maintain your soul and inner machinery.  Most importantly, you must be able to fix anything on board when it breaks.  These jobs require huge skill, knowledge and experience.  I have always found happiness in being able to “work” through a set of circumstances and come out the other side being better prepared, having more skill or knowledge, and generally unscathed.  For this reason solo sailing represents the ultimate test for many and the satisfaction of reaching a port is the achievement.  Then there is the Internet, communications and navigation.  Ah, an endless stream of technologies to play with and I'm always curious!

The Tech Tips in this web site should help you with the "fixing" and upgrading parts.  They document repairs and upgrades for a San Juan 23 sailboat that most anybody with opposing thumbs should be able to handle.  The concepts of the Tech Tips are applicable to other San Juan models and similar class boats.  I've performed most of them and those in the "idea stage" are posted as food for thought.  Panache is hull #109 and at this vintage she is an excellent example of things to come.  Since I sail her solo most of the time, I strive to create labour and time saving devices by storing things close to where they are used.  In general, things used outside are stored in the cockpit and things used inside are stored in the cabin.  The only exception to this rule are my jibs stored on the forward berth which I manage through the hatch.  It's quick and easy and one less thing to drag over a pitching deck, along with a damned good chance of loosing the bag overboard.  Besides, sail bags are very comfortable to sleep between.  I hate rolling around on a berth and the bags do a great job of wedging me in.

That all changed with a very fortunate circumstance in 2017 led me to add roller furling to Panache.  This was an awesome improvement in performance that I could not have imagined.  The following year I added a staysail to the inventory to carry me through rough weather.  Now I carry only the spinnaker or staysail on the forward berth.

When you consider which fasteners to use, choose simple ones because exotic tools are not available on the water.  Be consistent with screws so you don't have to change drive tips all the time.  All measurements are in Imperial units to match the original design.  However, this shouldn't prevent you from using a metric ruler to do your repairs.  Working with a base 10 number system is so much simpler than working with a base 6 system.  Remember to measure twice and cut once.  You only get one chance to screw it up!  Never underestimate the havoc that can be wreaked with a power tool in the hands of someone without a plan.  And lastly, if you make a mistake, at least make it look intentional!

I hope you find the information in these Tech Tips useful.  Enjoy. 

Bob P. Schimmel
Alberta, Canada


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