So it’s 10 pm on the night before the start….

We just had a  great crew dinner in which we all took a breath to acknowledge how far we’ve come.  Pete humbly thanked all the folks that have done so much to help get the boat ready.  We give special thanks to our friends at Raritan Yacht Club,  Clearly, the Rebovich family and crew understand that this effort has been shared by a really large group of supporters.   At the same time, there is still work to be done.  Relative to our competitors, the boat is not yet 100%.    Race day is always early, but tomorrow will be especially so. We are confident we’ll be ready to go by start time.    Once we clear the line, the crew knows what they need to do.  Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us.   You are the best!


Less than two weeks and counting…..

June 3, 2014

This week’s milestone was getting the engine running.  The replacement Westerbeke 4-107 was previously in Paul Van de Meer’s boat, Guillemot, one of 57 boats lost by our club in Sandy. Paul graciously came by on Saturday and spent the entire day helping us get it hooked up and wired properly.  The biggest hitch was fabricating an end fitting for the kill cable.  That took a couple of hours.  Finally, we got it running, but it wasn’t pumping water.  We figured out that we had reversed a pair of hoses (not that hard to do on an engine with 3 different heat exchangers) and bingo!  

The engine runs great, and Paul is happy to know that part of Guillemot survives.  Sinn Fein has had a number of organ transplants from lost boats.  My wife’s and my boat, Poppy, alone has contributed wood molding, a battery, lifeline gates and lifeline cushions!  Poppy is going to Bermuda!

We’ve also been working hard on the wiring.  Last night Pete and Kelly wired the bilge pump, switch, and new high water alarm.   We also have the VHF radio, instrument displays and processors working.  We haven’t had a chance to check the nav lights.

A couple of our challenges for this week are installing the AIS and fixing the hydraulics.  Unfortunately Garmin tells us that they no longer make the GPS antenna for our old B&G instruments.  This means that any of the instruments using locational information from the GPS won’t work.  Our current plan is to feed the GPS signal from the AIS to the B&G, but we haven’t actually tried this yet,… and everything seems to be more complicated than it should be! 

The hydraulic backstay adjuster has also been a trial.  The panel leaks and no one seems to be able to get parts for it.  Pete bought a second one off of eBay, but it also leaks.  If we run out of time, we may actually have to go back to the ancient manual turnbuckle system.

We have yet to hoist a sail, but are planning to get out this week.  The boat leaves New Jersey 2 weeks from yesterday!   

Made the measurement deadline!!

 The mast went in without a hitch last weekend.  Thanks to Buzz Ballenger for making a beautiful spar that fit perfectly.  Dobbs Davis came up from Annapolis and measured the boat on Monday.  We actually made the measurement deadline with a couple of days to spare!  The hoses are on the engine and the filters mounted, but it’s still not quite running.  Hopefully VW Bob will be able to help out this weekend.

We are into the stage where every job on the punch list seems to be specialized, nothing fits quite right, and every task takes longer than expected.  The muffler on the replacement engine is too tall.  We have to customize a pin for the gooseneck.  The mast hold-down requires a different bolt.   The screws on the B&G processor are hopelessly frozen.  Because we are moving the instruments around, we need to cut new faceplates for one of instrument panels.  It goes on and on.  But Mega seems to get a couple of jobs done every day—with Kevin’s help on most days.   Kelly usually comes down after work. 

The hydraulic cylinder in the vang has been replaced and the backstay adjuster is being rebuilt. The batteries are mounted.  The wiring has been pulled.  Hopefully Gary will finish of the nav station in the next few days so that Mark can tab it in and we can start installing the instruments.   There is also a lot of handwork required.  Mega needs to stich chafe gear on the spectra lifelines.  There is a new mast collar to be made.  The good news is it’s a 3-day weekend. 

Happy Birthday MPYC!

Mother’s Day Madness

Sinn Fein Update May 12, 2014

 Well, the boat hauled back out on Monday.  It was hard to get much work done during the week.  Pete Sr. and Kevin did get all the slats remounted on the side of the hull above the bunks. 

Despite being really windy on Saturday, the weather was pretty good for boat work this weekend.  Mark had to make the repair to the shaft log before we could move the engine back into position.  The repair consists of a lot of fiberglass in the bilge around the log where it comes through the hull, then covered with heavy duty filler.  On the outside, Mark shot 3M 4200 caulk in through the vents for the cutless bearing, length epoxied around the aft end of the cutless.  We hope it’ll hold together.  They are pretty sure they’ll have to rework it all next winter when they have more time to “do it nice.” 

On Sunday, Pete Sr. and VW Bob worked on getting the engine and V-drive hooked up.  Identical engine to the old one; brand new V-drive.  What could go wrong?   Alright, yes the transmission was just a little longer on the new engine.  To make a long story short, it didn’t fit.  After much swearing, cutting of fiberglass, and bumping the engine back and forth, they managed to get it connected.  It’s not aligned yet, and all the accessories need to get hooked up, but this was big. 

Other smaller jobs that got done: 

  • Artie has fixed several small pieces of trim that needed work. 
  • The two Pete’s got the new lifelines done.  They’re nice spectra numbers complete with a little spectra chafe patch at each stanchion. 

  • Mark and Kelly hooked up the stem fitting and nose piece.  This was another one of those old boat jobs where nothing would line up right.  It all had to bolted up ins just the right order, with nothing too tight.  We had to dry fit it, then take it out, squeeze all the caulk in and install it a second time.  Kelly lost about ten pounds up in the nose of the boat on a warm day. 
  • Gary and Kelly also got the final pieces of the toe rail cut.  Mark then cut a couple of small wedges to go on top of the rail in the front to smooth the transition between the nose piece and the toe rail.  This didn’t get bolted in because we ran out of time.  
  • Gary also cut a template for the cabinetry above the new navigation station and ice box.
  • Finally, Pete Jr. and Kelly made a first pass at wet sanding the bottom.  It was just enough to take the worst of the orange peel and roller marks out, but it’ll get better as got to finer paper.

In….then out!

The boat went in, but has to come back out again!

Friday night we worked until 10 pm, with Susan and Krista painting the cove stripe by spotlight!  We got the engine in the boat—at least in place and bolted down enough that it won’t fall over.  The rudder went in (again) and seems to be great now.   There was no time to wet sand with more important jobs going down to the wire.  

Saturday was Raritan’s annual group boat launch.  It was a beautiful day and Sinn Fein was last to get splashed, so we had a bit of a chance for a celebration.  With so many people having helped out, everyone felt pretty invested in the event.  A bit after noon, the boat entered the water to wild applause and champagne.  Crew member Rev. Anne-Marie Jeffery gave a quick blessing—when you sail a 50 year old boat, it’s a really good idea to have a priest on the crew!

The bad news is the boat is leaking!  Two steps forward and one step back.  It’s not a big leak, but there is a trickle coming in through the shaft log.  It’s a known weak point on the boats (if you can call it a weak point when something drips after 50 years!).  The boat will come out this week so the job can get done properly.  Hauling it out isn’t necessarily the worst thing that could happen.  It’ll be easier for the mechanic to get the engine going on land than on the mooring.  The insurance surveyor will come over and sign off on the final hull repairs (hopefully).  We can get the head stay tang mounted.  Maybe we’ll even get the bottom wet sanded? 

Sunday, the wind howled out of the west, but we got 90% of the toe rail finished, the backstay tang mounted, and finished up a few other small jobs.

17 days to the measurement deadline.

Hear the champagne corks?

Hear the champagne corks?

Launch Day Looming!

Launch day is tomorrow!  Because we share a crane and launch as a group at RYC, we have no leeway on when we go in.  Launch was already delayed two weeks by bad weather.  Since the last report, a lot has been accomplished, despite cold and often rainy weather: 

  • The topsides are painted.  Levelling the patch on the starboard side was tough work.  I didn’t even know you could buy 20 grit paper for a long board!
  • The pulpits have been welded and are installed
  • The beautiful navigation station and ice box lid created by Gary Gochal is installed
  • Half of the toe rail is installed
  • The bottom is painted
  • The new windows are installed
  • The steering pedestal is installed
  • The measurer has done all the on shore measurements for the mast, new rudder, etc.
  • The mast is ready to be stepped (except for mounting the butt plate in the boat).  


Before we go into the water tomorrow, the following jobs need to be completed:

  • The engine needs to be put in the boat, mounted, and connected to the shaft and V-drive (we can hook up the rest of the stuff later
  • We need to wet sand the bottom (guess what the crew is doing on their Friday night!)
  • The quadrant needs to be installed and the steering connected
  • We’d like to finish installing the toe rails (not absolutely essential, but easier to do on shore).
  • Most important…Pete don’t forget to fill that drain hole you drilled!


Twenty days to the measurement deadline!  And, yes, we have asked the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee for an extension to the measurement deadline under the recent amendment to the Notice of Race! Hopefully we won’t need it.

Update as of 3/31/14….

Sinn Fein Resurrection Blog, 3/31

Kelly Robinson

52 days and counting to the measurement deadline!

As anyone in the East can attest to, it’s been a long winter.  Even in late March, it’s been too cold on most days to apply filler or paint.  Make no mistake, team Sinn Fein is fighting the clock.  The boat is currently housed in a temporary structure consisting of a tubular aluminum frame covered by a synthetic tarp.  You may have seen similar structures on farms to house machinery, or in some boatyards.  I affectionately call it “the Hilton.”   It’s big, allowing a person to walk around (a bit stooped over) on top of the boat while it is on the trailer.  There are about two and a half feet of clearance on each side, and maybe five total feet of extra length beyond the hull.  Despite our hope that we could heat the space, it has proven impractical (and probably dangerous). But when the sun comes out it warms up significantly. 

The Hilton is big enough that it falls under building regulations of the City of Perth Amboy, NJ.  Originally, they wanted it down by March 30th, but have kindly extended that a week.  If we don’t get the painting completed while the shelter is up, it could be weeks before we get weather warm and dry enough get the topsides done.  The forecast is for warming this week.  We can only hope.

Fortunately, fiberglass is easier to apply in cold weather than paint.  The hole in the hull is completely closed and almost completely faired.  It still needs final fairing, barrier coat, and a topcoat.  Overall, the patch extends approximately 20 feet along the starboard side.  The actual hole was much smaller, but the extensive overlap is done to increase the strength of the patch.  In the middle, the patch extends from about two feet below the waterline to about 6 inches below the shear.  The port side of the boat is ready for primer and then final painting.

Mark Rebovich has also been busy repairing the deck-to-hull joint. It was only compromised in a few places, but he took the opportunity to improve upon the original construction of the boat.  At the transom, the original construction had minimal (as little as one-quarter of an inch) overlap of the deck and hull flange, with much of the strength coming from the toe rail.  Mark laid in a lot of fiberglass to create a much stronger connection.  Elsewhere he has cleaned out the broken up 50-year old bondo that originally glued the deck to the hull flange.  He then rebonded the seam and doubled the number of bolts through the flange. 

The two short bulkheads at the back of the pilot berth and the forward end of the quarter berth on the starboard side have been replaced.  They look so nice we may have to re-varnish the rest of the wood in the boat.  It could ruin our image!   Krista McCaffery, is also working hard painting the interior of the boat, which should really brighten up the inside. 

The navigation station and icebox were ruined when the jackstand came through the hull.  Tabbing their replacements in will be one of the last fiberglass jobs.  We have reduced the size of the ice box to allow more room for the nav area.  Crew member Gary Gochal is building the new nav station and promises that we’ll actually be able to sit with our legs underneath.  The old seat hung from the overhead something like a trapeze…and required the same amount of skill to master in rough seas! 

The very last fiberglass job (we hope!) should be reinstalling the vertical supports on the interior of the hull that hold the decorative mahogany strakes over the main cabin bunks.  Once that is done we can start a major cleaning of the boat.  

Gary also has milled a new toe rail for the boat that we are hoping to install in the next week or so.  Like so many other boats in New Jersey, all the stanchions were destroyed and had to be replaced after Sandy.  We mounted the stanchion bases this weekend… well, almost all of them.  Typical of dealing with an old boat, we are still looking for one last stanchion base that will match the others.  The “new” (i.e., scrounged) bow and stern pulpits have been sent out to the welder to be modified to fit the boat.    

The winch pocket on the starboard side of the cockpit had to be reconstructed.  This is done, and no, they did not add any drink holders. The new cabin windows have been cut and drilled and are ready to install.  We’ve left them out for now so they don’t get scratched up with all the construction going on. 

Kevin Le Compte has gone through all the wiring on the boat checking for breaks and corrosion, cutting and recrimping ends as necessary.  Pete had previously tested the electronics and instruments to see if they would power up.  They seem to be OK, but we are counting on doing the Stamford-Block Island Race to test everything in racing conditions.

Pete has acquired a used engine for the boat that is identical to the original.  It has been tested, but is not yet installed. 

A used rudder of more modern design was purchased from Steve Waterloo, a Cal 40 owner in California.  It has been installed with new bushings manufactured by Gary Gochal.  They need just a bit of tweaking, but this should be a big improvement over the old rudder.  We still need to install the pedestal and reconnect the steering.

Perhaps the biggest single job left is to rig the mast—which is still on a truck coming across country.  Spar maker Buzz Ballenger has cut the holes for us and provided the spreaders and electrical conduit, but we still need to add the hardware, rigging, and electrical.  This is Peter junior’s job. 

Well that’s about it.  We’ll try to keep everyone posted as our deadlines get closer.  Thanks for all your support!