Catalina Winches


Contrary to hearsay and internet rants, people are incredibly kind, especially here in America. While governments flit between leaders and losers, this amazing country’s  constitutional values remain intact. I benefit from them every day. So, thank you Americans for being so kind, and I hope you all have a happy 4th of July.

Although several months have passed since my last blog submission, the work on the Catalina continued. I have a lot to tell you about. So, lets’ pick up from where I left off.

In my last post, “She has Issues”  I promised news of my winch repair project. The subject of repairing sailboat winches, while useful, lacked excitement and struck me with writer’s block. Who wants to know about winches? Is anyone reading my stuff?

Then one day and out of the blue, a package arrived from a family friend in Memphis. Discovering my interest in boat renovation, she hand-crafted a boat shop sign. I choked up as I tore off the wrapping paper. It was a wonderfully useful surprise. Although I called her and thanked her with as many words as I could, even now, it still doesn’t seem like enough.

In fact, generosity went viral with the advent of social media. In an earlier post, “We Call Her She”  I conveyed how much I enjoyed YouTube, describing it as a place, “where an increasing number of master craftsmen inspire humanity for zero dollars down, thus, usurping traditional education.” The statement shocked me at first because not too long ago, I really despised the internet site and others whose subscribers broadcast intellectual property without compensating the creator. Sure, free music was great but not for those who created it.  In my view, a lifetime of work went down the tube.

At that time, I considered my musical career valueless and frequently questioned my existence. What was the use of writing music anymore? I sold off my studio, bought my Catalina and started to write this blog. While I don’t claim the status of craftsman or expert, sharing my journey expands my sense of purpose, and I hope that you find it inspiring.

DSCF2476Buying my sailboat changed me. Now I view YouTube as an excellent source for learning. I dread to think how much it would have cost to have an expert refurbish all six of the Lewmar winches. When I pulled them from the deck, I didn’t know how to repair them and even contemplated purchasing replacements. Without YouTube, my renovation would either be sunk or I would be out of pocket.

Once I removed the winches and other fittings, I realized why the boat took on water each time the rain fell from the gloom that had stalled for weeks overhead. Nearly every piece of equipment leaked. As you can see from the  picture, most of the sealant from under this winch had washed out some time ago. Although it would take me several weeks of work, making the Catalina watertight again became my next priority.

Dodging the raindrops and marbles of hail, I removed all the deck fittings, plugged the holes with butyl putty and covered them all up with gaffer tape. Then, in the comfort of my propane heated garden shed workshop, I cleaned, polished and lubricated where necessary (silicone spray). You can see the project gallery here.

I also discovered this video tutorial by the Stingy Sailor.  He presents a comprehensive demonstration using a winch from a 1981 Catalina 22′. I learned a lot from the Stingy Sailor whose website is also a treasure trove of generous work. I can’t wait to dive in and try out some of those inspiring projects.

As many of you know, YouTube also hosts countless sailing videos. I follow a handful of other tale-telling sailors who broadcast their adventures for free. Sail Life, Christian Williamson, Jamie Bowen, and the salty “Old Sea Dog” Barry Perrins all produce colorful videos that keep my sailing dreams alive. Another project run by the Sampson Boat Co. helps balance my perspective when the Catalina work becomes too tedious. Truly, it sometimes overwhelms. That is, until I watch the “Rebuilding Tally Ho!” episodes. Leo Sampson Goolden, to whom my wife wants to send a hairbrush, is a fellow expatriate from Bristol in England whose mission it is to rebuild the 1910 Albert Strange gaff cutter, and sail it back home to the U.K. In comparison to Leo’s much loftier scheme, fixing up a Catalina 25′ is a cinch!


Finally, the subject of naming our Catalina came up. Though we have a few thoughts, I wondered what you would suggest. Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.

My apologies for leaving you out there, readers. I hope you’ll forgive and continue to visit my site. As a tease for the next post, I should mention that I re-worked my Catalina 25’s anchor locker and installed a neat little drain. I am excited about sharing the gallery for this and will post it here very soon.

In the meantime, check out some extra shots of the Lewmar winches by visiting my galleries page. I hope they are useful to someone. My winches were in a shocking state. Some of them wouldn’t even turn. Now they’re all shiny and spin around like new. I enjoyed the intricate work. Again, thank you, Stingy Sailor for being so generous. Until next time…









Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s