Steve's Sailing Mods & Repairs Page


Catalina Modifications
Mast Support
The stock mast supports reside at the fore and aft ends of the boat, but with a 30-ft mast this can lead to some sag and bounce in the middle when trailering.

To prevent this, the original owner built an additional mast support out of 2x4s, which attached at the mast step. Because I like to carry the mast lower for vertical clearance, I needed to make a new, shorter center support. While I was at, I updated the design by incorporating a rubber boat bumper at the top.

12V Outlets
The boat came with one 12V outlet near the CD player that's useful for powering an MP3 player or the thermoelectric cooler. But I wanted a few extra outlets for the VHF radio and GPS.

I used a convenient access panel located near the companionway to mount the sockets without having to drill big holes in the liner. I moved the dome light outboard to make room, then tapped into an existing DC circuit for the depth finder.


Getaway Modifications
Hiking Straps
Whereas stiff breezes and choppy seas often go together, we found it tough to maintain balance on the wings when we most needed to be out there! You want to anchor your feet, but youcan't reach the stock hiking straps from the wings (unless you're a basketball player). Thus I added another set of hiking straps running the length of each hull from the aft to the forward crossbars (with gaps in the center for the coolers, of course).
I cut the straps from some tie-downs made of 2" nylon webbing. I melted the ends, then folded them over and sewed them using strong button thread (you could also probably make do with upholstery thread) and my wife's Pfaff machine. then I installed 3/8" grommets at each end and in the center of the long straps. I secured the ends by screwing into the crossbars or through 1/8" aluminum backing plates (accessed by reaching around through the hull inspection ports in the coolers). I secured the centers using metal wall anchors.
They work great--bring on the wind!
Dual Hiking Sticks

We found it awkward to have to pass the tiller extension around behind the mainsheet block on every tack/gybe. I thus borrowed an idea from an Aussie skiff-racing video and installed dual hiking sticks. I made the sticks from aluminum paint roller extensions I bought for about $12 each at Lowe's. They lock with a 1/4 twist in either direction and seem quite sturdy enough for the job. I wrapped the ends with athletic friction tape for a secure grip. I installed small stainless steel broom hanger clips at either end of the tiller bar and on each hull behind the aft crossbar. The clips on the bar hold the leeward extension when not in use. The clips on the hulls are sort of a "poor man's autopilot." They're mainly used to hold the rudders straight when paddling, but can serve as a nice "third hand" when you have to retrieve a lost sheet.
The hiking sticks are attached to the tiller bar on either side of the hole for the original tiller extension. The detail below shows the swivels I made by bending 1/8" aluminum bar stock in a vise. Other hardware I used includes stainless steel sheet metal screws, machine screws, washers and lock nuts, and nylon washers and bushings.
This system worked very nicely, with one minor exception: When the boat heeled over, the leeward stick drug in the water, popped out of the clip, and ended up trailing behind in the wake.

I've now shortened the hiking sticks so they don't protrude past the tiller bar when retracted. When fully extended, they're still longer than the stock tiller extension, so there's no compromise.

(You saw it here first, folks!)
There's hardly a more classic, picturesque sight than a sailboat flying a colorful 'chute on a sunny day----even non-sailors recognize this image...Well, I wanted to play, too!

The problem was that Hobie didn't offer a spinnaker kit for the Getaway and didn't plan to.

But eventually I talked them into selling me a Hobie 16 spin hardware kit, which I modified, and a custom-cut spinnaker for the Getaway.

I believe I'm the first on my block to have one. (Actually the first on Earth!)

The sail colors are Neon Orange, Neon Yellow, and Neon Green. I had wanted to match (or at least complement) the "Islands" palette of the stock sails, but there seems to be no spinnaker cloth available in those exact shades.

The first sail I received, a standard H16 spin, wasn't quite what I had in mind. Its more subdued shades---Pumpkin Orange, Goldenrod, and Forest Green---didn't really integrate with the Islands palette. Also, the sail was too large, as the H16's mast is taller and raked further aft than the Getaway's.

Hobie was good enough to take the sail back and try again---thanks to Matt Miller for his support, understanding, and patience! He e-mailed me a palette, from which I chose these more suitable colors. Though they're a bit more "electric" than the stock colors, this is definitely the side on which to err. The new sail was custom-cut to fit the measurements I took with the hardware installed, yielding the results depicted here...

Now that's more like it!

Here's the spin in action on Lake
Carl Blackwell
near Stillwater, OK.

For the record, this was the first-ever
"operational deployment" of a spinnaker
by a Hobie Getaway!

Sunday, 25 Apr 04, ~1400 CDT

In the words of Hobie 16 sailor from
the Oklahoma State University Sailing Club
who happened to be on the water:


Here's the spinnaker in action again on
Canton Lake, near Canton, OK.

Saturday, 1 May 04

It was a much windier day---actually went swimming a couple of times---but later, when the wind calmed down some (<15 mph), we got the spin out and it handled well. It seems to lift the bows a bit, which is nice. does this make it less likely to pitchpole? Can't say for sure yet... guess I'll need more tests!

(Note I was using my Hobie Wave mainsail that day to reduce sail area---see below.)

The good news is, the stock H16 spin pole bolts right on with almost no modifications; You just have to bend the gudgeon to the contour of the forward crossbar. the pole and stays are already the right length to allow the stays to be shackled to the forestay bridle eye straps on the bow spreader.

(Note: the extra lines you see were part of a "virtual sail" I used to get the correct measurements for spin #2)

The swivel cleat for the spinnaker halyard is also an almost perfect fit. The contour of the base plate isn't an exact match to the Getaway's forward crossbar, but it's close enough.
I positioned the spin tang 22" (ctr-ctr) above the shroud tang. This was another a piece I had to bend to fit.
I put the spinnaker sheet blocks on the outer edges of the wings, 3" from the rear and at a 45-deg angle from vertical, which allows both seating and sheeting.

I mounted the spinnaker bag (not part of the kit, unfortunately) on the main trampoline using nylon straps to secure it to the tramp laces and inboard hiking straps.

Now that I've helped iron out the bugs and write the documentation, Hobie may start offering this as a pre-packaged kit to other Getaway owners.

That would be cool! The Getaway is, after all, the "Wave" of the future...

(and they do offer a spin kit for the Wave)

Jib Travelers
These are H16 swivel cleats and 18" tracks, installed on the forward crossbar on either side of the mast. Now I can control the slot better for different points of sail, and can definitely catch more air with the jib when broad reaching/running in lighter winds.
Jib Clew Plate
I Had Roger Kerr (a sailmaker in Tulsa) install this clew plate on the jib for me. In conjunction with the travelers, I now have much more control of the jib's shape. Plus it's a cool gizmo, and I like those...
< photo n/a yet > Main & Jib Telltales & Windows
Here's another set of mods I had Roger Kerr do for me. For some reason the stock Getaway main and jib lacked something common to all other Hobie sails I've seen (including the Wave's): telltale windows. Roger installed them and, while he was at it, also added telltales along the leech. This should really help (if all that flapping doesn't make me seasick); it was hard to tell what was going on before with only one set of 'tales per sail.
"Reefable" (Zippered) Mainsail
This is actually a zippered main for the Hobie Wave. Since it's smaller than the Getaway's main, using the entire sail is my "first reef." Then, if the wind picks up even more, I can remove the bottom panel to take a "second reef." (Believe me, it gets windy enough in Oklahoma to need this sometimes.)

Using this sail doesn't really cause any problems with sheeting angle because the foot length is about the same as the Getaway main's. The Getaway main has a curved foot and a large roach, but the tack-clew distance is only a few inches longer than the Wave's.

Of course, it's necessary to use a pennant to extend the halyard when using these shorter sails. By making the pennant the right length, it's still possible to use the locking feature of the halyard to reduce mast compression.

Here's a detail of the clever system used to maintain luff and leech tension across the junction. Nylon straps are secured to the lower section and pass through grommets in the upper section. These grommets become the tack & clew cringles when the lower section is removed.

The only problem I've encountered using this sail is if I sheet in REALLY hard, the luff rope can pop out of the track up by the head. This is because the shorter sail doesn't extend all the way up the mast past the nylon portion of the luff track on the comptip.

But this isn't a huge problem, and other than that the sail works great!

Cooler Lid Seals
When you fly a hull on the Getaway, water can pour into the downwind cooler. The lids just don't seal tightly enough to prevent this. Hobie issued instructions for modifying/adjusting the lids to improve their seal, but short of a true dogged-down hatch, you won't stop water from getting in.

Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to try, which is why I installed this weather stripping I got at Lowe's. It seems to help some.

Cooler Drains
For the 2004 Getaway, Hobie added a drain hole in each cooler to get rid of water from either melted ice or the inevitable leakage of the cooler lids. Hobie doesn't offer a kit for older Getaways yet, but they did tell me which parts to order from McMaster-Carr on line. The only Hobie catalog part is the stopper retainer, which is the same lanyard used to hold the wing pins.
The drain hole connects to a tube that passes through the hull. Water will drain when the hull is level and not too heavily loaded (or when it's upwind and flying). The small rubber stopper is inserted to keep water from backing up the tube when the hull is low in the water.

The exit hole is on the the inside of each hull, located six inches below the trampoline track.

These are pictures of the installation I did on my 2003 Getaway. Seems to work, though doesn't drain very fast when in the water.


Blue Max Modifications
Daggerboard Tensioner
When I first put the Blue Max together, the daggerboard wouldn't move smoothly through the trunk; it was a very tight fit. I used a rasp to loosen the fit around the thickest part of the daggerboard so it could slide freely. Then, borrowing an idea from many other dinghies, I used a piece of shock cord to provide tension and keep the daggerboard in position.

It works great, and has the added benefit of tension adjustability.

oars & locks
Rather than the pricey stock wooden oars with collars and oversized locks, I opted for lightweight aluminum oars with clamp-on locks. I stuck 1/4" rubber pads on the locks to fit to the oars and hold them securely.
< photo n/a yet >
drain plug
This didn't come standard on my hull (though it apparently does on newer ones), but Walker Bay was nice enough to send me one, which I installed myself.


Getaway Trailer Modifications

Spare Tire
This is an obvious necessity. Wal-Mart usually carries both the wheel and the mounting bracket.

This also seems obvious, but our trailer didn't come with one. We got the winch from the dealer and the strap from Wal-Mart. We use it to load the boat and to help secure it on the trailer. We either route the strap around the bow spreader and back to the eye bolt I installed, or we attach it to steel rings that fit over the mast step bolt.

Mast Stepping Pulley
I made the pulley at the top of the mast support from a rubber boat roller, trailer shackles, hex-head bolts, washers, and lock nuts. We route the winch strap over the roller to help step the mast. It's cheap and works like a champ.


Note the Orion graphic on the inside of the bow.

Here's a closer look at the mast stepping pulley. I used stacks of washers to maintain spacing between the shackles, but a bushing or spacer would be even better.
Mast Cradle
This is a must-have! It sure beats using ragged old pieces of carpet that tend to slip out of place. To construct this I cut a rubber boat bumper in half (a band saw would probably be best, but I used a razor blade... laborious). Then I bolted the two halves to a rubber boat roller as shown and drilled several small holes in convenient locations. The holes are used to secure the cradle to the aft crossbar using two short rubber straps with hook ends. Again, a cheap and effective system using off-the-shelf parts.
This shows how two more short rubber straps are used to secure the mast to the aft crossbar for trailering. No modifications to the crossbar are required.
Sail Tube
Here's another must-have that you can build for less than half what a retail version costs. I made this tube from a 10' x 12" PVC pipe and end caps (available at your local HVAC supply store for about $100). The caps are both hinged and secured by double-hinged hasps. The tube is both attached to the trailer and stabilized by heavy-duty zip ties (also an HVAC item). (Metal hose clamps would also work, but I couldn't find the right size.) Multiple holes are drilled in the bottom of the tube for drainage and to keep the trailer from floating when launching the boat.
The hasp/hinges are attached using aluminum pop rivets and washers. The rivets are inserted from the inside out to keep the inside of the tube as smooth as possible. This facilitates sliding things in there----sail bags, rudders, tiller bar, paddles----without damaging anything.
The end caps are secured by linch pins and may also be locked using small padlocks. I installed small handles to aid in popping the caps off; they tend to stick a bit due to tube deformation caused by the stabilizing straps----to minimize this, be sure the caps are installed before tightening the zip ties!
One good tube deserves another...

When I got the spinnaker and second main, suddenly I needed more room in my sail tube----more than I had. So I built another tube, which went much quicker than the first, since I already knew how to do it... it only took one day.

I use one tube for sails and one for hardware (for both the Getaway and Blue Max).

Note that I reversed the hinges & hasps so the caps now flip up when open. This keeps them from dragging along the ground when launching the boat (i open them so the trailer doesn't float).

Beach Dolly Carrier
Our beach dolly is a Euro-Trax (from with the V-shaped cradle option. These fit the Getaway's hulls very nicely. I found that drilling small holes in the aluminum axle for the cradles' set screws----once you're sure of the correct placement!----helps improve cradle security. I used teflon tape on the set screw to help keep water out of the axle.
To carry the dolly on the trailer I installed a forward crossbar made from 4" PVC electrical conduit (Lowe's). I notched the tube to fit in the correct location and secured it with heavy-duty zip ties.
I also cut a short length of PVC tube and took a lengthwise slice out of it so it would fit over the trailer's aft crossbar. This helps prevent damage to the dolly's hull cradles during transit.
We secure the dolly to the trailer using a single bungee at each end. The orange edging is plastic tubing I sliced lengthwise to protect the cradles and keep their sharp edges from chafing the bungees.


"Honey, I Broke the Boat" Department
It was a very windy day at Canton Lake.

It was howling at about 20-25 knots.


See the waves? See the whitecaps?

See the bent trees?
See the bent mast?



Looks like an aluminum banana

See the bent tang?


Is it supposed to do that?

The good news is we had Orion 2 back on the water a week later,
thanks to Bill the Engineer and his clever solution:

You may have heard rumors about something like this...
I'm here to tell you: it CAN be done!

It took a while, but we finally found a way to repay Bill for being our honorary squadron commander, the host of many excellent parties, and an all-around great guy... not to mention a top-notch emergency mast repairman!

(And he STILL can't wipe that grin off his face)

Thanks, Bill!

Brad, Lambo, Bill, and StevieRay

"Looker 41 Flight"

T-37 Tweet Orientation Ride

Vance AFB, OK

7 May 04