Boards...Get Them Right
In September of 2015, I got a question from Stew Harris about board boxes. Stew is the indentured servant tending to the I-20 fleet in Washington, D.C. They all sail out of a public marina jutting into the Potomac in the shadow of Ronald Reagan Airport, which I still call 'Washington National'. It's kind of fun to see the airliners flying up the line of the Potomac, between the buildings. One is close enough to hear and smell the touchdowns as the rubber meets the pavement.
Here is Stew's question:
Well....I have another question for you...Are you up for it?
I noticed on this 1984 Johnson that the glass taping on the board box
where it meets the deck was separated by a board horn. Probably during
a bottom strike. There is now a "lip" on the inside of he board box
that can catch the board horn when it is raised.
That caught on me a few times during racing this weekend.
Is there a best practice for this repair?
I have been contemplating this...and wonder if I should patch the inside
of the slot.
I was thinking about putting a patch of 6ozKevlar weave on the inside of
the slot. I could use something less exotic on the outside. Of course,
the box will need to be braced during this repair to align the deck and
board box to remove the lip.
I suspect you know all about this board box issue and resolved it on
Hope you can share some pearls...
The board box 'slots' in the hull and the deck are defined by the scantling Rule as being allowed to be no more than 1/2".
Before you start, check your 'board extensions beyond hull'. The I-20 Rule says 44 and 1/2 inches (it probably says that in the M-20 rule, too, if we could find a copy), and since the boards are undersized, you need all of what the Rule allows, and be prepared to change the hole location in the board to accomplish this. You also want the boards as far back in the boxes as possible while going to windward. Whealon's are as far back as I could get them, even farther than my own.
Do not presume that because the 'boat builder' put in the boards in the first place, they must be right. If you believe that, you are on some leading edge recreational drugs.
In both the Melges and Johnson hulls, the lower slot locations are built right into the hull moulds; their locations are correct per the Rule, and astonishingly are the same from Melges to Johnson (also OSP, Windward, Thompson in Canada, and me).
The interior space in the board boxes is a width of about 3/4" (in mine, they are exactly 3/4 inch). This gives the board more room, reducing jamming, particularly after oversize meatballs have been out on the board. I know you have been there.
So that there was no 'hook' in the deck at the 1/2" slot, I deliberately ignored the Rule, and made my deck slots 3/4", also, so that there would never be a lip.
For every I-20 boat/board that I have ever seen, the leading edge of the board going to windward in everything except full gale, must be perpendicular to the hull, i.e., vertical.
The design errors in the boat mean that every M-20/I-20 hull has moderate weather helm, probably caused by 1) the curve of the leeward bow when on a proper sailing angle, 2) larger mainsail roaches introduced to the boat after the initial design was done in about 1964, and 3) design error on Day 1. Melges did not have a corner on this built in helm balance error; my D boat (the design came out of Johnson in 1946 as the 'South African Racer') is an unwieldy beast, even when the boards are in their most aft positions.
E scow and A scow helm balance are quite good these days, it only took 100 years. The M-16 is completely fucked up, worse than all of the rest of them put together. Look at any picture of an M-16 going to windward. The masts look like they are genuflecting.
The boards are undersized in the Melges A, too (the Johnsons are fine); the E scow blades for both builders are adequate. It's been so long since I sailed an M-16 I can't remember if the board area is adequate. Undersized board area is usually only a problem in light air, when water flow over the board is less.
Board extension beyond hull and full board drop is almost always wrong in every I-20 that I look at. It is now correct in every boat that I get my hands on: my 2011, my Hayashi 2005, Whealon's, Boatman's, the two Fleming hulls, and no doubt some others that I cannot remember.
For your fix, just use a crude, coarse file you don't care much about to open up the top of the boardbox...this is the part where laymen get cold feet, as you are removing lots of laminate and gel coat. The most important side to get this 'transition' correct is on the outside of the board slot, because sailing pressure against the board causes the horn to lay/press to the outside.
In Aaron Lynn's case, he got rid of his board horns altogether. When one looks down his board boxes with the board full down, one needs a caving light to see the top. It works well.
In the case of your boat, get everything opened up, then re-glass the inside and outside, using glass cloth and epoxy resin on the outside (you can just use epoxy filler on the inside of the box slot for a faired surface), after you have removed old tabbing with a wood chisel, and sanded so that the surfaces are fair. Do not use polyester resin on this repair. Don't use polyester resin on any repair; it is mule shit. Use epoxy.
I use a piece of finished stock 1 x lumber (of which the finished thickness is exactly 3/4") jammed down into the board box from the top while glassing the edges. This will keep those floppy sides in alignment. Tape up the lumber with clear packing tape so that you don't permanently attach it to the deck/board box.
More fun sideboard stories
Along about 1985, Brad Robinson (of Minnetonka) had stopped crewing on the Chute A scow, and ordered a new Melges A hull for delivery in 1986. As with all of his Melges E scows that came before, he ordered it unrigged. This is actually a really good idea, as one does not have to rip off all of the running rigging that the builder (doesn't really matter which one) has installed incorrectly.
The new boat was named VICTORY.
In the process, with a Rule book in one hand, he 'blueprinted' the boat, i.e. checked every dimension against the written scantlings.
In the Rule, the board 'extension beyond hull' is limited to 5 feet. In his new boat, they were only 4-1/2 feet. I have no doubt that he checked our boat, too, in the middle of the night, as well as others. They were all at 4-1/2 feet. At least they were consistently wrong.
Brad made up a cardboard template of his board, and started experimenting with pin position to get full drop. His solution was to put a 6 inch slot into the existing board, so that at the bottom of the travel, it dropped another 6 inches. Presto.
Now Brad has an A scow with board draft of 5 feet, whereas everyone else is sailing with 4.5. He probably added about 2 square feet to the board area. This was in a boat, the A scow, where the board area was inadequate from the get-go.
Fast forward to 1996, when Brad was finishing up his run of winning 11 of 21 A scow regattas since 1986. We were sailing ADIEU back to the Pioneer harbor on Winnebago, I was dicking around with the side board for some reason, and Tommy Burton says from Fantasyland (that's the helm), "You know, the boards on Brad's boat, VICTORY, go down 6 inches farther than this boat.
Burton, in a panic: "Why? Is that illegal?"
Willie: "No, if Brad did it, it is spot onto the Rule, but those sumbitches are sailing around with 6 inches more draft than we, and everybody else, are. No wonder that rig goes upwind like a scalded cat." They had won a drag race with us to the port corner in the last race of the 1994 Inland Championship, and that beat decided the championship.
I had never checked board extension beyond hull on any of my 3 A boats.
When I got to the pierhead, I headed over to VICTORY, tied up in the same harbor. Brad was up at the Pioneer meeting rooms, getting ready for the class Annual Meeting. I approached VICTORY. Robbie Evans, who was the current helmsman, was there. I asked him about the board drop rig, he invited me in, I checked it out. Sure enough, they dropped an extra 6 inches at the end of the board swing. The boards even had board horn extensions welded onto them.
What to do? I had two choices: go home, rerig ADIEU, and then the fleet would have two hulls which would be basically untouchable upwind, or go public.
I chose the latter path, and the Meeting gave me the perfect platform to do it. Towards the end of the meeting, the Fleet Representative asked Brad if he had done 'anything new with regard to boards or rudders'. Good question. Brad had already put the first foil rudders on an A scow, and everyone was slowly converting to them. Brad shook his head, answering in the negative.
WIllie: "What do you mean, Brad, no development with boards? The boards on your boat go down 6 inches farther than every other boat in the fleet."
Holy shit. There was a collective hushed "What the fuck..." from all engineering geeks in the fleet. Brad looked like someone had just told him his mother had been shot.
Now everyone knew. Brad basically never forgave me for that outing.
No one actually checked Brad's boat; the assumption was that it was right and legal. At that point, the ILYA had never measured any glass A scow. We all went home that winter and changed our boats. Melges, rather than slotting the boards, figured out that if they changed the board pivot pin forward 3 inches and down 3 inches, in both the box and the board, the same 5 foot extension was achieved.
Note that the 'VICTORY' we are talking about here is not the new hull that Brad built himself in 2003, but the 'stock' Melges hull he bought in 1986. Both hulls were named VICTORY.
Scow intrigue...ain't it fun?