Bow pole

18 Aug 2014

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I've been working on lots of sub-projects at once, most of which are still semi-incomplete. However one which is now complete is the bow-pole (or the "boats nose" according to my 2yo daughter), so I thought I'd document that.

Hardware

The pole as delivered by Multihulls Direct didn't need much, just two U-bolts for the Screecher and Spinnaker attachments. The deeper of these was 528mm into the pole (which has an ID of 95mm), beyond my reach, and I must have tried half a dozen ways to get a nut on the bolts - right angle drill adapters, a chain driving a sprocket to torque the nut, various other Heath-Robinson style solutions. In the end I emailed Michael and he suggested finding someone with smaller elbows. Sometimes you lose sight of this option when you're working solo.

Wife was dutifully press-ganged into assistance with the shortest socket driver I could find (to give a reasonable angle of turn in the narrow tube) and the bolts were fitted, with my fantastically useful USB Borescope assisting. The pole is carbon fibre so I sheathed the bolts (Wichard 65342) and backing plate (both A4 Stainless) in glass to electrically isolate them.

Navigation Lights

Next was the navigation lights. I decided to put these on the end of the pole because it looks rather sharp; because my other plan (putting them at the outside of the canard-like bow-net supports) was foiled when these turned out to be backfilled all the way through with epoxy. The lights are 2 x Hella Naviled Compact which came with an incredibly tight-fitting housing. What I ended up doing was:

  1. Cutting a rough D-shape out of 18mm ply and shaping it to wedge into the end of the bowpole. I hope this is the only ply I'll be using on the boat! Sealed the ply with epoxy. Naturally I forgot to take photos of this bit, you can just see it in the recess for the lights in the photo to the right. Drilled a hole through it edge-ways to get the wires out.
  2. Taped a polyethylene bag in the end of the bowpole, put the plywood "D" in place, stood the pole vertical and filled the bag with thickened epoxy. This formed a tight, solid plug in the end of the pole - the off-white section to the right of this photo. The backing place for the U-bolt at the end of the pole just butts into to this, which means the rubber "bulb" can only be fitted one way into the tube.
  3. Moulded 100g of white Sugru around the lights (sans housings - I got so fed up with trying to refit the lights I threw them away). Sugru is a UV-stable and weather-resistant silicone which starts like plasticine and cures over 24 hours to a fairly solid rubber.
  4. Shape a bit with a razor blade, sand, refit the lights with a bead of silicone sealant around them. The new housing was so close fitting I didn't even screw them in, they're not going anywhere.
  5. Run the cable down the bow-pole and fit a Bucaneer IP68-rated plug on the end. I just need to remember to unplug it when the pole is retracted.

I should have wrapped the lights in cling-film (US: plastic-wrap, NZ: gladwrap) first to make them easier to remove from the mould, but a bit of leverage and they came out OK, with the mould unharmed.

The Sugru doesn't bond to the plastic lights, although it does bond nicely to the epoxy and plywood, and in this sort of volume the cured rubber is slightly more flexible than the soles on a pair of trainers. I've been trying to figure out what do with this stuff for about 3 years since I discovered it, it's nice to finally come up with something.