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Thread: Commander #155 'Mephisto Cat'

  1. #91
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad

    A great weekend for sailing

    Thank you Chance,
    I am glad that you are enjoying reading about my little adventures... I am really enjoying being back in the bay and its great sailing environment. I really enjoy sailing these capable little yachts and working on them is part of the fun (most of the time anyway!). I only hope that more people get inspired to restore more of these great little yachts.

    This was altogether an outstanding sailing weekend!

    The highlight was definitely the Hoppe regatta on Saturday. It was a bunch of fun and look forward to participating again! It is not often that I get to sail with fellow A/Cs.

    The weather was beautiful all weekend and the winds just like those that the SF bay is famous for...

    I set off for the central bay on Friday and had a great singlehanded sail to Berkeley. I decided to take the sails down outside of the Berkeley marina... (Mistake!) It was blowing quite a bit and I got pummeled and soaked as I tried to get the sails down... Note to self: There is plenty of room INSIDE the protected marina. Next time WAIT to take the sails down until you are inside!

    The Mephisto Cat participated in the Association's Hoppe Regatta on Saturday. You can read about the competition and see some more great pictures here:

    I especially like the first picture taken as we headed off towards San Francisco. The other is at the crossing of the finish line (below): (Photos courtesy of our own Bill Phelon).

    On Sunday we had a perfect warm, clear blue sky sail with with south westerly winds back to Vallejo. It was one of those sails that make the day go by too fast...

    Just prior to our departure on Sunday, we had a chance run-in with Sean Faul. He is the former skipper of Commander 'Faith', (C-239), whose great voyage from Chicago to Berkeley - via the Panama Canal is documented at:


    His log is beautifully written and tells of a great adventure. When planning my trip from Ensenada headed North I looked at Sean's log for insight on that section of the passage. When finding the site to post the link here, I found myself reading it again! It is very detailed and entertaining - there are many exciting tales from their trip nicely woven & documented on the site such as:
    Running from a hurricane, underwater repairs on the high seas, in addition to the typical Pirates, ports-of-call adventures, sea monsters, etc. (I made-up the sea monster bit ). In any case, I wish I could keep a log like that!

    We spoke for a while about 'Faith' & the 'Mephisto Cat', and among other anecdotes he mentioned that he had just completed a beautiful refurbishment of 'Faith' and that he'd just sold to a friend up in the Pacific Northwest. He was doing the delivery and had so far had sailed 'Faith' up to Fort Bragg. - I saw pictures of the end result of his restoration, and Faith did indeed look beautiful.

    Hopefully he'll chime in with some pictures of the nice work... And maybe the new owner will post pictures of some PNW scenery!

    He also mentioned a few details having to do with Pearson's development of the Commander's bridge deck, but I'll let him share that story...
    Attached Images    
    Last edited by Rico; 08-07-2009 at 12:00 AM.

  2. #92
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Santa Cruz
    Rico, I thought you might enjoy this picture as well..........ed
    http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/...6-17&dayid=286 - scroll down

  3. #93
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Excelsior, Minnesota

    Dang thats pretty!

    Nice breeze, flat water, beautiful weather. All enjoyed from one of the prettiest boats on the planet. Count your blessings Rico...you're a fortunate man.

  4. #94
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad

    Sail track

    Ed - I do believe that the boat pictured in the link is a Bristol 27 (or similar) - not a Commander. But it is a good picture never-the-less...

    C-227 Thanks! When I am out there, I wear a full-time grin!

    The Sail Track

    If you saw my query in the 'Jib Track placement' thread (http://www.pearsonariel.org/discussi...read.php?t=283) , you know what my most recent project was; I am happy to announce that I have installed the sailtrack. It seems like a simple enough task. -Just drill some holes and screw them in - as someone who should know better put it...

    This is where I started:

    I had more questions than answers and I was all over the place... - could come up with reasons for all sorts of angles for the track... (The only part I knew was the location of the Genoa track - the purple line on the rail - which remains un-installed! - not needed yet due to the Bay's consistent summer breezes...)

    Having sought tons of advice from racers, members of this board, and pretty much anyone within earshot about these &^%$% tracks. - I SLOWLY learned what the important bits were AND most importantly whats bits to ignore. - At least enough to think that I did... which allowed me to start thinking about drilling holes.

    I also learned a bit more about sail geometry and trim, and started to get information enough to proceed and determine the location for installing the jib track. - Credit must go to Ed Ekers for turning some key lightbulbs on, on the topic!

    I am happy to report that it appears that I got it pretty darn close to correct... I am very happy with the results. I am using twin-sheet track cars on these tracks. My sail trim ability is much, much improved! (See pictures in post above with tell-tales pointing straight aft from top to bottom of sail...) And all sheets run free and clear of everything.

    As I previously predicted I would, I've repeatedly told myself: I wish I'd done this sooner!!

    I started by reinforcing the Winch bases - for good measure - as the loads experienced by the jib sheets with proper sail trim are expected to be greater than those seen to date with the use of the cabin-top tracks...

    The winch reinforcement went something like this:
    Session 1: Remove winch bases, Re-drill for oversize holes in deck, fill with dense epoxy resin, grind epoxy filler flush with deck, add matching gelcoat color-coat on top, redrill final holes.
    Session 2: Install winches @ coambings, Find previously made aluminum backing plates that remained un-installed from before, set in bedding compound, Install winch bases, seal, re-fasten, wait a couple days and tighten.

    After finally deciding on what should be the desired location for the 4' length of racing jib track, I proceeded in a similar manner as described above.

    The track installation was essentially as follows:

    Pre-work: Add Polysulfide to track sections as bedding compound/sealer, buy aluminum plate 3" x 3/16" x 10'. Sand, prime, & paint backing plates, Cut plate to size, add 'base' polysulfide bedding compound to backing plate accounting for noticeable peaks & valleys and let cure, find previously bought fasteners.

    Session 3: Measure at least 20 times (accounting for adjustments for possible sail trim variations, track car locations, OTHER potential future sails, sheet routing, curvature of the interior's surface (where the backing plate goes), AND bulkhead location), Mark track fastener locations, ponder all of the above, then close eyes, cross fingers, and drill locator holes.

    Session 4: Re-drill for oversize holes in the deck, clean out balsa core bits and prep holes, fill with dense epoxy resin, grind filler resin flush with deck, add gelcoat color-coat to match.

    Session 5: Redrill final holes, cut backing plate again to fit/straddle bulkhead, drill holes in backing plates, paint backing plates - again, test plates for bedding compound profile & fit.

    Session 6: Install track with additional (fresh) bedding compound, Find fasteners, loose the fasteners, fasten track to deck & install backing plate underneath with fresh polysulfide, pack tools laying everywhere, vaccumm bits of dust everywhere. Wait a few days for fresh polysulfide to cure, re-tighten fasteners,

    By the time I finished on Session 6, it was late & quite dark... It was all fuzzy... Don't remember getting home... The next day I went to the marina to find a track on deck - (and there was another similar track on the other side of the boat!)

    Picture 1: The oversize holes in the deck. I am happy to report that there was nothing but BONE dry balsa in all the holes... - You never really know what has been going on for the last 40 some years!

    Picture 2: The backing plates with offset holes to better match the interior profile. -The Angle cut on one end of the plates is to match the angle of the bullkhead. Note the initial polysulfide application to compensate for peaks & valleys and as pre-cured bedding. I like to provide semi-cured bedding on initial installation of any load bearing surface underneath a fresh layer immediately before installation.

    Picture 3: The final results.

    Picture 4: Picture of the backing plate in its final location. (3 more bolts are beyond the bulkhead) Note that the little lampshades are now in place after being in a box for about 3 years. I'm told we look 'more civilized' now...

    When doing the Gel-coat, I re-did the clear epoxy coating on the forward hatch. The stuff does not like the sun and although the Gel-coat still looks GREAT, the hatch is looking a bit dull in spots... I'm thinking I might gel-coat it gray or white.... Hmmm....
    Attached Images        
    Last edited by Rico; 08-06-2009 at 10:54 PM.

  5. #95
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Brooksville, FL

    Rico I love looking at your boat...

    I want mine to look similar when I get done with it. (like I will ever get done with it, after all it is a boat).

    Are you using a block at the aft end of the new tracks behind the track car to create a fair lead to the winches? It is hard to tell from the pictures but it looks like if the track car was forward to much it would cause the jib sheet to rub against the combing boards.

  6. #96
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad
    Thanks 147, (just had a 'Get Smart' flashback..!)

    I am. - I measured everything and found what I thought was the right location for the track. - After debating whether to adjust the track location for the inboard tailing of the starboard winch in order to avoid rubbing, I decided to maintain a consistent track location and use an additional block to route the sheet and keep it off the coambing.

    (I've sailed on a boat where the track location compensated for this winch issue and as a result the pointing abilities were different depending on the tack... - not good.)

    You might be able to spot it.... It is barely noticeable on the first picture in post #96. I use one of the cars intended for my Genoa track. I'll never be using BOTH tracks at the same time... so it was not a big issue.

    I remember some skipper once befuddling a newbie sailor as she wondered about the direction of rotation of the winches on each side of the boat. He told her that when he bought the boat could not quite afford the 'optional' counterclockwise-turning winch for the port side...

    - I'll post some 'action shots' - once I take some!

    Picture 1: The sail track location looking forward.
    Attached Images  
    Last edited by Rico; 08-06-2009 at 10:56 PM.

  7. #97
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Scarborough, Maine
    Rico, thanks for the great pics and set up information! I'm taking copious notes for when I finally get around to re-mounting the genoa and jib tracks. I'm going on three seasons just attaching the blocks to the stanchion bases. (I'm obviously not a racer!)
    Totoro (Sea Sprite 23 #626)

  8. #98
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad
    No worries mbd - Thanks. All that matters is that you are out on the water sailing!

    The Plastic classic and getting beat-up in the dark
    The ‘Mephisto Cat’ participated in the ‘Plastic Classic’ regatta a couple of weeks ago. The regatta is intended for boats designed more than 25 years ago… It was a fun-packed sailing weekend which included a bit of a beating /soaking during a windy and very wet / chilly sail on Friday afternoon & night.

    I do not have any pictures of our night sail, but here is a picture of the Mephisto Cat sailing in the South bay in the Plastic Classic regatta:

    More details and pictures posted on the Plastic Classic Regatta thread on the 'events' board:

    BTW - You cannot see them in the pictures above, but the shiny Original Pearson Nav light fixtures with LEDs are now installed: See picture below of the light at a 45 deg angle.

    For details and more pics on the LED installation along with product info, an order discount, see the Navigation Lights thread:

    - the scupper covers are finally on too.

    **More pictures of the track installation are now added to the posts above. More project postings soon...
    Last edited by Rico; 08-21-2009 at 08:26 PM.

  9. #99
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad

    Chart Table

    I've finally installed my little chart table!
    One of the simpler projects on the boat, but one that took its time...

    I knew I wanted a little 'salty' looking chart (multi-use) table, but could not find the right 'chart' to use. I got one of the channel islands and then one of San Francisco bay, but none really looked right. I finally saw this one and I knew this was the one!

    It is also the chart I used to navigate my way north...

    (I do not know why people look at me funny when I tell them this!)

    It is a very interesting little chart I got somewhere on the web... Unfortunately, I do not have a date or author. Interestingly, the chart includes 3 scales; Dutch 'Mijl'*, Spanish 'Leguas' and English 'Miles' .

    It is quite accurately labeled as far as the best known & well traveled areas (settlement ports & Islands) of the North westernmost part of what was known as 'New Spain'. Cities/towns from Colima to Cabo San lucas in the South to San Diego, Santa Barbara, & Monterey in the North ...

    The islands of Catalina, San Clemente, San Martin, & the channel Islands are all well labeled, as well as some of the major landmarks: Magdalena Bay, San Quintin, Todos Santos Bay, Pt. Conception, Point Reyes, Drake's Bay (San Francisco Draco) and the Northernmost Point Blanco. But as you go North, the accuracy is lost and the 'imagined' takes over...

    I guess that at that point no one had made it all the way North in the sea of Cortez to the mouth of the Colorado River, and no one had sailed North past point Blanco (Oregon) hence the assumption was that California must be an Island...

    Conspicuously, San Francisco Bay is missing altogether from the chart as it must not have been discovered at the time this chart was drawn! The approximate location is shown as the mouth of an ambiguos river mouth... This would date the chart from about the early to mid 1700s.

    - A bit of Wiki history: San Francisco Bay was First discovered by the Europeans on November 4, 1769 when Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà, unable to find the port of Monterey, California, continued north close to what is now the town of Pacifica and reached the summit of the 1,200-foot (370 m) high Sweeney Ridge, where he sighted San Francisco Bay across the peninsula.

    Portola and his party did not realize this was a whole un-discovered bay thinking they had arrived at an inlet of Drake's Bay. At the time, Drake's Bay went by the name Bahia de San Francisco and thus both bodies of water became associated with the name. Eventually, the larger, more important body of water fully appropriated the name San Francisco Bay.

    The first European to enter the bay is believed to have been the Spanish explorer Juan de Ayala, who passed through the Golden Gate on August 5, 1775 in his ship the San Carlos, and moored in a bay of Angel Island now known as Ayala Cove.
    (See Angel Island map in post #80 above).

    Sorry for the digression onto history - but it is all pretty amazing that we are still visiting the same virtually unchanged (fortunately) places -by sail- that these guys visited hundreds of years ago...

    Anyway, Back to the table... I disassembled the table, cleaned it up, sanded the teak and applied several coats of varnish.

    I also sanded the original formica table top to remove some stains and roughen up. I have to say that had I wanted to keep the interior totally original, I could have just polished the formica and it would have been as good as new. It really cleaned up well... Instead, I roughened the surface up a bit for best adhesion and proceeded to epoxy the chart onto it!

    I wanted about 1/8" of clear epoxy cover over the whole table (This meant I needed about 1/2 liter of CLEAR epoxy).

    I tested the chart print for color-fastness and fortunately the ink on the print was not affected by the epoxy. I stuck the whole table in the oven to warm -up & accelerate the curing while I carefully mixed the clear hardener & resin.

    As it turns out, I did not need accelerating the cure... Due to the large volume of epoxy, it went off quite fast. I used a bit of epoxy to set the print on the table and then I poured the rest on top. I poured and almost immediately after spreading the epoxy and achieving a level surface - it set. Had I taken 15 seconds longer I would have had a complete mess on my hands. Instead, it came out very nicely.

    Due to an inexplicable late start to this little epoxying project, I ended-up going to bed at about 2 am...

    The results are pictured below:
    Picture 1: Photo of the chart.

    Picture 2: The table installed and in stowed away position.

    Picture 3: The table deployed.
    Note the nice glow of my warm-light LED bulb under the little lamp shade.

    In addition to providing a flat surface for all purposes; I am convinced that this table is good for at least one knot over the water!

    *A bit more on the Dutch 'Mijl':
    mijl = about 5 km

    The mijl was the equivalent of one hour of walking. It was a variable measurement that differed from region to region. One commonly used measurement was the "Holland mile" (Hollandse mijl). The mijl is usually assumed to be the equivalent of the English league, which was also variable but was about three English miles or about five kilometres.

    Other equivalents of the various miles in use were the French lieu marine (5,555 m), 20,000 Amsterdam feet (5,660 m) or 20,000 Rijnland feet (6,280 m). Between the introduction of the "Dutch metric system" (Nederlands metriek stelsel) in 1816 and the reforms in 1869, the word "mijl" was used to refer to a kilometre.
    Attached Images      
    Last edited by Rico; 08-21-2009 at 08:43 PM.

  10. #100
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Brooksville, FL

    Rico you do things the way I like to do them...

    with a touch of class and attention to detail.

    Your chart table is very nautical and looks great. Nice job.

  11. #101
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    San Francisco

    Great Chart!

    I always wondered about those four islands were I sailed to Utah.

  12. #102
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad
    Thanks! -

    I'm sure that the last time I saw those islands, I was driving well inland....

    I've been taking advantage of the great summer we've been having. The strong summer winds are calming a bit in the San Francisco Bay... We'll be looking forward to their return, but there is plenty of sailing to be done until then. We are still looking forward to a beautiful weekend coming-up for the Fleet Week festivities...

    Plans for next weekend (Oct 9 to 11) are here:

    Here are a few pictures of some summer 2009 sails so far:

    Picture 1: A nice warm day out with a salty crew... We had a great sail in mild winds and warm temperatures. Lack of high-wind duties had the crew well into the grog by mid-day. We had planned a stop at the neighboring port's watering hole, but by the time we reached it, there was clearly no need...

    Some of the crew fared better than others upon our return to the dock late in the afternoon due to the 'excesses', but it was still a lot of fun... (NOTE the off-the-shelf 'Mephisto Cat' gear...)

    Picture 2: A typical gray but breezy summer day in SF at the Master Mariner's regatta in the Bay; an mazing old ship's race held since the 1800's. The best weather for sailing! (no need to worry about the sun!)

    Picture 3: Camping at Angel island. We had a campsite for the 2 boatloads of landlubbing 'passengers' (only one load shown in pic.) while some of the crew planned to stay on the boat at the mooring.

    We unloaded everyone's supplies, but did not manage to get too far before stopping for some refreshments. Had we known we had quite the hike to the camp site we would have spent less time 'at the dock' and would have also spent less time fighting in the dark with the raccoons for our dinner !

    It is at times like this when you wonder where all the boats/people in the bay have gone to... (-no complaints though!).

    Picture 4: Chased by a bigger-badder boat on a wednesday night beer-can race.
    Attached Images        
    Last edited by Rico; 03-07-2010 at 03:23 PM.

  13. #103
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad
    I decided to coat the forward hatch on the Mephisto Cat with colored gel-coat... - the renewed 'transluscent' (Clear epoxy) coated portion of the hatch was not doing so well in the sun, as you may imagine... It was good for a few months, but then it started looking as old as it did before the restoration...

    I wonder how this transluscent portion did out of the factory back in the day... (You can see a 'Before' picture on Post #94)

    Anyway, now has a nice thick coat of white Gel-coat on it! I'm pretty happy with it. It does not let quite as much light in, but it still lets some in. In any case, it is really not a problem as there is enough light coming in from the portlights. It certainly looks better from the outside.

    News update:
    Somehow I've ended-up the owner (rescuer) of another Commander...
    As it turns out it is C-187 and it is in excellent shape.
    More details here:
    Attached Images  
    Last edited by Rico; 04-20-2010 at 10:19 AM.

  14. #104
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad

    Gel-Coat work

    And speaking of Gel-Coating, here is a bit about the much delayed documentation about the gel-coating work on the boat itself:

    I've many pictures and trying to pick a few is hard, but here goes...

    We started by taking EVERYTHING off. Everything.

    C-155 was sitting naked whithout a stitch of hardware (Picture #3). My Friend Guillermo did the bulk of the fine work of the fairing necessary for the gel-coat finish to look smooth and he was also the master of the Gel-coat spraying.

    I was fortunate to have his spraying skills available as evidenced by the mess I made when I tried it myself... From early-on, my spraying was limited only to spraying the Gel-coat curing film (Part-all).

    After the repair and structural upgrades came the sanding. Lots of sanding. Some poking, reparing, and structural upgrades also happened at this stage, especifically at the hull / deck joint, at the stern chainplate, and at a few dings & scratches that had been collected the boat's lifetime. We also eliminated MANY screw holes of all kinds. A bunch at the companionway bulkhead and house as I deleted all bolt-thru connections. (Picture #1)

    When that was all done, we sanded to a rough finish (good for a strong mechanical bond) and applied the first few coats of Gel-coat.

    THESE few coats did not turn out so well, as billions of little fish-eyes stared at us from the hull...
    - Utter Disaster.

    These are tiny bubbles that formed within the original factory Gel-coat / resin and then show-up when the surface is abraded. They were really evident when a good coat was applied to the surface. (Super zoom Picture #2) This was not good... actually, it felt like defeat at the time.

    Needless to say, we wanted no more of this, so we went deeper with the abrasives and then, using stiff plastic cards as a spatula, I went over the whole surface with a strong filler in order to avoid any more tiny surface irregularities... (While Guillermo smirked & drank beer, I might add...).

    - Then we sanded ALL of THAT OFF, and that left only the tiny bits that were actually captured within the surface irregularities... Uggh! (Picture #4 shows the paste partially sanded off. (-That is about when the first sander died!) The pictures were taken at different stages - we eventually went below the waterline with the prep & the new gel-coat.

    I will say that having someone - anyone - to provide a hand with a bit here & there, or even at least help drink a few beers while working makes the most daunting chore much easier. If they have some skill, then the advantage is exponential. Working by yourself is not nearly as much fun...

    I wanted a light color to avoid high temperatures in the california sun, but there were few stock colors available that seemed appealing to me.

    I ended-up buying some dark gray and a bunch of white gel-coat and mixed my own colors. I ended-up with a light shade of gray for the hull and a much lighter shade of gray for the non-skid. The rest is a sort of creamy white - but not near anything like BEIGE...

    More to follow shortly...
    Attached Images        
    Last edited by Rico; 03-07-2010 at 03:27 PM.

  15. #105
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    San Francisco - or Abroad
    Here are a few more shots of the gel-coating process. There are no action shots because of the time constraints of the gel-coating. If the resin sets-up while still in the equipment it is just all bad news...

    So we'd prep like crazy and then spray like mad as the days were short. Guillermo would spray while I did my best to keep hoses & ourselves away from any surface already coated.
    We did several coats at each area applying a nice thick layer each time, in order to up with a nice thick shell.
    After the resin was in place we raced to apply a curing compound that keeps oxigen away from the surface allowing it to harden properly and preserving a quality surface finish (we still polished afterwards!). Then came the clean-up.

    We usually finished late in the day, and by the time I got around to taking pictures, it was already dark.

    If I remember correctly (It is all a bit fuzzy now!) We applied several coats going roughly in this order (we did come back to do more coats on several areas):
    - Port side topsides
    - Sbd side topsides
    - Non-skid
    - White areas on deck
    - Waterline stripes
    - Hatch covers & other bits
    - Cabin interior and any other nooks

    We did several coats at each area especially at those areas that see the most wear. The waterline stripes received only two coats of the red gel coat.

    Picture #1
    Spraying the pretty rear end yet again... (This is the closest thing to an action shot!) We started with the transom as a test area, and tested Gel-coat a few times for color & consistency. With all the resin back there, I could get rear ended and most everything will be able to be buffed out! (Not that I'd like to try!)

    Picture #2
    I believe this is the second two-coat application of the white areas on the deck. The greenish tint is due to the curing compound. I got the green tint version so that we would see where we had a good coverage with the compound and did not leave any gaps. This all washes off easily with just water. It is like a thin coat of Jell-O. I love the stuff... If it is not used, the oxygen exposure prevents the exposed Gel-coat from curing properly resulting in a sticky surface that is quite hard to deal with.

    Picture #3
    A bit closer to the end... All colors in place. We also mixed that pretty red as the base red was a bit too 'lipstick'... (Note nicely painted outboard plug in place). The waterline stripe at the plug looks a bit weird in the picture, but it is fine in reality... an optical (Photo) illusion. (I checked after looking at this pic!).

    Picture #4
    Testing looks with the lazarette lid in place. Non-skid is done along with all other colors. No hardware at all is in place yet.
    I took this picture when the lid was completed. At that time, I was also installing the new companionway teak and you can see the teak dust everywhere! Note also the ton of dust inside the lazarette due to a dusty Santa ana wind....
    Attached Images        
    Last edited by Rico; 03-07-2010 at 03:31 PM.

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