Saturday, February 29, 2020

Custom Hardware

A couple of months into the second decade of the 21st century a coronavirus pandemic is sweeping the planet causing tourism and commerce to shrivel up and crashing financial markets (which have been long overdue for a crash in any case). Soon supply line disruptions will cause assembly lines around the world to grind to a halt for lack of parts. As the pandemic runs its course, it is likely to sweep away an entire cohort of elderly smokers. Meanwhile, Americans are getting ready to choose between a capitalist who doesn’t know how to make capitalism work for the masses and a socialist who doesn’t know how to make socialism work for anyone. In such times, what is a collapse-oriented blogger to do?

First things first: eat a hearty bowl of borscht loaded with shredded beef, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped scallion, dill and garlic and served with rye bread. And once that’s done, it is time to attend to some long-neglected sailboat design tasks.

Three years ago I bravely published a post titled “The Final Sheeting Arrangement.” I was filled with optimism at the time. After much experimentation I had discovered a simple way to keep Quidnon’s Junk sails sheeted perfectly flat. I had tested it out on a 1:12 scale model and verified that it worked very well indeed. But soon after I published it my friend and very experienced Junk rig operator Dave Zeiger blew my boat straight out of the water by pointing out a major problem with my design: it would not keep the sails anywhere near flat once they have been reefed. I accepted his critique with equanimity and, since I had no solution to offer, kept quiet about it for three years, during which, luckily, not a single person endeavored to build a single Quidnon, and so this unsolved problem hasn’t hurt anyone.

But now I believe I have finally found a solution. With this problem solved, the Quidnon project can finally move past the head-scratching phase and on to the next phase, which will involve grinding out a large number of mechanical drawings, assembly diagrams and other documentation without which no boat can ever get built. Here, then, is my plan, which I will call “The Final-Final Sheeting Arrangement.”

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