Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One of the Crew on Chief, a Beneteau 10 R, submitted this video of Chicago Mac race. It is quite a production.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lewmar 185TT Bow Thruster Installation in Mariposa

As far as modifications to your boat go, few are as satisfying as installing a bowthruster. Anybody can feel comfortable cruising around in open water, but docking in adverse conditions can be stressful for even the saltiest captain.
This winter we added a bow thruster to a 2006 SeaRay Sundancer 40 called Mariposa and now we're going to walk you through how we did it.

Step 1: Choose an appropriate thruster and install location

Given our experience with Lewmar Thrusters, we decided to find a Lewmar model that would suit the boat. Our first decision was deciding on a tunnel diameter. The smallest tunnel, at 140mm, seemed a little under-sized, so we moved up to the next option, the 185mm tunnel. We then decided on the beefier of the motor options, moving from a 3.0kw to a 4.0kw motor. This provides the boat with 5.4hp of directed thrust.

The location for the Thruster Installation
Install location is the next priority and often can be the downfall of a thruster install estimate. Bow Thrusters obviously need to be mounted as far forward as possible with the tunnel completely below the waterline for them to work effectively. Some boats will have them installed under a forward bed or even near the anchor locker. Some sailboats have a head in the bow and many things must be moved, rebuilt and re-routed to fit a bow thruster. Luckily, the layout of Mariposa allowed us full access to the subfloor with plenty of space for the thruster and all required accessories without any interior modifications required. An added bonus of the Lewmar 185TT is that the motor does not need to remain vertical and can be mounted nearly 90 degrees from vertical as long as it is supported by a bracket.

Step 2: Measure, measure, measure!

When cutting an 8" hole straight through the boat, it's very important to make it in the right place, especially when you have to cut from both sides and have them be perfectly aligned.
First we made sure the boat was level on its jack stands. Then we measured from the bow and the stern to give ourselves fore-aft marks for locating our center holes. We double-checked this by finding thru-hulls near the install location and measuring the distance from the thru-hulls to our ideal pilot hole location. Following this we triple-checked all of our measurements using plumb bobs hung from the deck as well as measuring with string from the bow eye. Once we were satisfied that we were correct in our holes (remember, we have to drill through the same location on both sides of the boat), it was time mask off and drill a pilot hole.

Step 3: Mask off the interior!

Mariposa has a beautiful interior complete with white carpeting, Corian countertops, one of the shiniest dining tables I've ever seen and spotless upholstery. The last thing we want to do when working on a boat is to ruin the interior so we masked off the entire floor with paper and hung and taped plastic to keep dust contained to the work area. We then cut the masking paper to allow access only the places we needed to work.

Step 4: Cut Holes in the Boat!
This is without a doubt the most stressful part of the process, but it has to be done. We started with a pilot hole in each side. We drilled both to 1/4" and inserted a long, threaded rod to gauge our alignment. Luckily all our measuring paid off and our pilot holes were perfectly aligned and level. If we had been off a little bit, it would not have been the end of the world. We would simply have re-measured and corrected the error. As long as our offset is less than the radius of the tunnel, the holes won't matter since all that material will be removed anyway. Since we're professionals, we were proud not to have that problem.

With the pilot holes drilled and aligned, the fun could really begin: removing an 8" diameter circle of hull. We created a crude compass using our guide rod to give us a guide line for the cut. We then fitted an electric drill with an 8" hole saw, used our threaded rod as the guide bit and went to town. Mariposa is a very well-built boat so we had to cut through nearly 2" of solid fiberglass in spots, so we took turns wrangling the drill, alternating sides from time to time so that our guide rod could do its job while we got our cut started and pretty soon we could see straight through the boat.

Step 5: Fine Tune the Hole
Once the hole was drilled it was time to switch from demolition mode to rebuilding mode. We ground out any uneven bits around the circumference of the hole and opened up a few pinch points that kept the tunnel from sliding through. We got the tunnel to fit nice and snug, but with enough wiggle room to rotate it, which is important for dry-fitting the whole installation later. Just because the tunnel fits doesn't mean that we're done with preparation for install. We still had to remove paint and barrier coat around the area and bevel the fiberglass to accept the tabbing we would be gluing on to secure the tunnel without disturbing the lines of the hull. We also took this opportunity to sand the interior of the install area to accept fiberglass and epoxy  for the tunnel install as well as the support block.

Step 6: Dry Fit

Before we glued everything up, we wanted to get everything lined up properly, so we cut holes in the tunnel for the drive unit to attach to the thruster motor and attached the thruster and drive to the tunnel. We shifted the tunnel side to side through our hole until our prop was at the boat's centerline. On a Lewmar single-prop thruster, the prop faces to Port, so the motor assembly must be shifted to Starboard to allow for proper alignment. Satisfied with our lateral alignment, we then decided how far from vertical we would need to lay the motor in order to comfortably hide and support the unit. We cut our support block, assembled everything and checked for issues.
Marks were placed on the tunnel and the interior of the hull to make sure we could repeat the exact angles when it came time to glue. We took the support block out and coated it in epoxy and over-drilled and re-filled the holes for the screw mounts to keep the block dry. We also installed the prop in the tunnel and ensured that it could rotate freely without any risk of striking the edges of the tunnel. This is an important thing to verify when there is still an opportunity to re-align the drive holes in the tunnel.

Step 7: Bond the Tunnel!

After triple-checking and disassembling the unit, we reinserted the tunnel, aligned our marks and put thickened epoxy around the tunnel, giving it an initial bond to the hull and locking in our alignment for good.
The thickened epoxy secured the tunnel but doesn't offer strength to the hull, so the next few steps are standard fiberglass steps used when attaching an appendage to a hull. We cut the tunnel near the hull and ground it close to flush. Notice in the next picture that we left a flange of about 1.5" on the forward edge of the tunnel. This is required for water flow when the boat is in normal use. Without this flange, water will force itself into the tunnel, creating noise and drag when underway. It becomes more pronounced as we continue to build up the fiberglass that bonds the tunnel to the outside of the hull.
We also need to bond the tunnel on the interior of the hull. We laid additional fiberglass tabbing around the tunnel inside the boat. This is one of those times that you remember just how important that masking step was. Running in and out of the boat with cups of epoxy can be worrisome enough, so it is nice to have confidence that any mishaps can be contained.
On the exterior of the boat, the tunnel bonding is now treated much like a standard fiberglass repair. We sanded it to shape, applied fairing compound, sanded that back down to blend our flange and restore the original strakes, applied barrier coat and antifouling. This concluded the fiberglass portion of the install. We then moved back into the boat for assembly and wiring.

Step 8: Controller Install

Lewmar Bow Thrusters can be controlled by either push-button controls or joysticks. The owners of Mariposa opted for a joystick controller, so we had to choose where on the helm to place it. Thinking of the most common docking scenarios, we decided that the controller should be as close to the steering wheel as possible for fingertip control. We also decided that when docking, the shifters would be used rather than the throttles, so the joystick should be mounted opposite the shifters to allow for the smoothest possible interface. Directly in our way was an ACR Spotlight controller which was a cinch to move and with a quick hole saw cut, a new joystick was installed on Mariposa's helm. 

Step 9: Electrical Install

Bow thrusters draw a lot of juice in short bursts, so a dedicated battery is a good idea. Again, we lucked out with Mariposa having plenty of room for a battery, charger and battery switch just aft of the thruster. The wiring is very straightforward, and the boat was already equipped with a spot on the 110V panel for a bow thruster battery charger, so all we had to do was fish the wires, install the battery, charger and switch, and plug it all in.

Step 10: Final assembly
With everything in place, it was time to mount the thruster motor and drive unit to the tunnel with sealant, lock-tite the bolts and tension them to specifications, install the propeller and anode and properly torque them. We rolled white gelcoat over our interior installation to make it a bit prettier if anyone decides to look at our handy work and cleaned up our cabling.
Step 11: Clean Up
We want our owners to return to a boat that is in better shape than they left it, so after pulling all the masking, it's time to give a cleaning to the interior to get any stray dust and leave the boat confident that everything is back in place.

Step 12: Enjoy!
The owners picked up Mariposa on Sunday and demonstrated how well the bow thruster worked for them as they pulled away from the dock.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Charleston Race Week 2014 Debrief - Currents and Tides

Sailing in tidal currents is something foreign to most lake sailors. However, when sailing in a harbor such as Charleston, understanding it is key.
Charleston is complicated in that two rivers flow directly into the harbor at a right angle to each other and there is an island in the center of the northern part of the harbor.
Before racing in a tidal harbor, checking tide tables is vital. Knowing the timing of the tides allows you to figure out when currents will strengthen and weaken as well as what to expect on different parts of the course.

Current lines can be observed in active harbors such as Charleston and San Francisco and are denoted by a foam line running along the axis of the tidal current. If you’re on a boat equipped with both boatspeed and speed over ground instrumentation, it is very easy to tell when the boat is in a new current pattern.
First, a primer on sailing in current. Generally, current is stronger in deeper water and lessened in shallow water, so current relief can be found over shoals, and generally near shore on un-dredged waterways.

Tides also generally switch first along the shore where the differing water level has a more immediate effect.

This means that in the middle of an ebb or flood cycle, the shore can be a relief.
At the change between an ebb or flood, the shore can produce a back-eddy or reverse current, and just after that can create a stronger current as the flow strengthens.
Current lines are important to understand when calling shifts up the course. On Saturday of Charleston Race Week, we sailed in a SSE breeze with a Westerly Current (Wind direction is the direction the wind is coming FROM, current direction is the direction the current is flowing TOWARD). The result of this was that boats near the Southern shore seemed to show a right shift in the breeze. However, this angle difference amongst the boats was not due to a change in true wind direction, it was a local phenomenon caused by shifts in apparent wind caused by the current and it affecting boats in the stronger Westerly flow near shore.
When sailing close hauled on Starboard Tack, pointing SSE, the current swept the boat sideways to the West along the shore, increasing the apparent wind speed and also moving it aft, allowing the boats to point their bows higher, thereby creating the illusion of a right shift. Similarly, boats on Port Tack, pointing WSW, were being swept mostly forward by the Westerly currents, creating an increase in apparent wind but also moving it forward, causing them to fall off and point lower, also indicating a right hand shift.
Recognizing that boats displaying this shift pattern were on the other side of a foam line on the water was of great importance, so that we could recognize that the right hand shift was not a mobile puff that would reach us if given more time, but something occurring on that particular patch of water and this knowledge kept us from getting tricked into wandering too far Right hoping for leverage.
For another critical lesson in sailing in current, watch the following videos from Sunday, where the fleet, sailing in light SE breeze with a SE current attempted to round the leeward mark. The only successful boats came in with speed and carried spinnakers past the mark. The rest of us stopped, drifted backwards while other boats behind piled up and stole the breeze, and it turned into a nice, old-fashioned raft-up. Albeit with a lot more yelling.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bacardi Miami Sailing Week Debrief

Bacardi Miami Sailing Week 2014, marked the 5th anniversary of this one design regatta which offers one-design teams from around the world a chance to warm up (for Northern Hemisphere teams) and a chance to indulge in the big breeze and flat water of Winter on Biscayne Bay.

I was lucky enough to spend the regatta with J/70 #169 and really enjoy what these boats can do in the breeze.

Day 1 greeted us with 10-15kts of breeze from the SE and great racing conditions. Though we were disadvantaged due to the fact that our driver was unable to arrive until day 2, we all shifted aft one position and got out there. As with every yacht race, getting off the starting line bow ahead or at least bow even was key. We didn't nail the starts, but we managed to get up to speed quickly and find clear air. Roundings were a little rough with a guest working up forward, but in such a forgiving boat, these didn't result in anything catastrophic.

I should clarify that though the boat is forgiving, the fleet is not. These are fast boats and the speed differences between one that is completely dialed in and one that is getting there can be 2-3kts. An error that might cost you a quarter boatlength in a J/24 will cost you 10 in a J/70.
Despite the excellent race committee work, the weather decided not to cooperate. Day 1 of racing was cut short after two races when a violent storm came through, threatening the fleet with sustained high breeze, sheets of rain and a risk of tornadoes. Thankfully the RC got all the boats in and rafted before the storm arrived and the only casualty on day 1 was the rum tent.

Day 2 arrived like a lion. The wind didn't lay down much overnight so we hit the racecourse in a sustained 18-22kt breeze. After 3 general recalls, we finally got going for the long uphill slog to the top mark. It was wet and there was some pounding, but with the rig set up properly, the boat seemed to stay on her feet more often than not and even for the forward crew it wasn't uncomfortable.
At the top mark the afterburners came on. At this point the breeze was up to about 24-25kts, certainly not unmanageable but very lively. The boat submarined through waves when we were less aggressive than we should have been with weight placement and the kite really loaded up when the hull slowed down. It was imperative to keep the boat planing as much as possible, to gybe in the flat spots and to always have a hold of the vang. As soon as the boat began to heel and load, the vang had to be eased or else she went over on her side.

Many of you have broached sailboats before and probably many of you have capsized in dinghies. Let me tell you that a broach in a J/70 is about the nicest, easiest broach you can imagine. Unless the kite is shrimped, the boat only seems to heel to about 60 degrees and just holds there. No worrying about water filling through the companionway or climbing down a vertical deck to get to a halyard. She just stays there, sails flogging, crew laughing, and waits for you to sort it out. Only one broach required the spinnaker halyard to come off and even then only about 10 feet had to be eased to bring the boat back up. After that a hard turn down on the tiller and a few hard pulls on the spinnaker and we were back to speed in no time.

While we had it easy, the Melges 20 class certainly didn't. Five masts broke during racing and there is quite a gallery of wipeout photos from Boatyard Photography

Unfortunately after the breeze blew through on day 2, day 3 was a bust. We tried and tried to get a race off, but the sea breeze was fighting with some high pressure and sailable wind never materialized. Such is the nature of yacht racing, I suppose.

At the end of the event, I can say that we learned a lot, gained a lot of comfort with the boat and had a really nice time getting warm and wet for a few days.

We can't wait to have the fleet of J/70s on the water for our 2nd Annual J/Day Regatta

Friday, February 14, 2014

With an Approaching Thaw, Check your Boat!

Finally, a break in the cold weather is in sight for next week! However, a rapid thaw after a long period of snow and cold weather can present issues not only for homes and roads, but for boats as well.

Boats stored outdoors that do not have full winter covers or shrink-wrap have been collecting snow for the past few months. Though the snow may be only a few inches deep on deck, cockpits are another story altogether. In some sailboat cockpits, the snow can be more than 2 feet deep!

As the snow melts into the cockpit, without proper drainage channels, the water can back up through the companionway hatch and flood the cabin.

It's important to make sure that drainage isn't compromised, this means that boats with open transoms should have snow cleared away from the opening to prevent ice-dams, and boats with closed transoms should have their cockpits cleared and drains checked.

In some instances, there may be a layer of ice on the floor of the cockpit, blocking the cockpit drains. In these cases, just clear as much snow as possible from the cockpit and decks so that any remaining snow melt can pool in the cockpit until the drains thaw.
Things to bring with you when you check your boat:
  • Plastic Shovel, as narrow as possible (You won't want to scratch the boat with a metal shovel and a narrow shovel is easier to maneuver around deck hardware)
  • Stiff brush (Works wonders for clearing snow off the deck quickly)
  • Waterproof gloves (Some parts of the cockpit are inaccessible with a shovel and you may have to scoop by hand)
  • Good, non-slip boots (Walking on icy boats can be difficult)
If you're unable to check on your boat this weekend, give us a call at 773-734-7777 or email us at and we'll be glad to go clear it for you.
A few minutes of shoveling now can save hours of headaches later.

Friday, January 31, 2014

2nd Annual Skyway Yacht Works J/Day Regatta - NOR

Hosted By Columbia Yacht Club
Notice of Race
June 28, 2014
Organizing Authority: Skyway Yacht Works
9864 South Avenue N #300
Chicago, IL
1.        RULES
The regatta will be governed by the rules as defined in The Racing Rules of Sailing 2013-2016, the safety regulations and rules of the individual one design classes and pursuit race.
2.1.   The regatta is open to all J/Boats. Expected classes include J22, J/70, J/24, J88, J92, J100, J/105, J/109, J/111,J120, J122, J125, J130, J133.  In addition a J/PHRF(buoy) and J/Cruise  classes will be formed subject to sufficient participation.
2.2.   All classes without the sufficient number of boats are invited to participate in the J/Cruise (Distance) class
2.3.   Classes require a minimum of 3 boats. Division splits and class selections may be adjusted at the discretion of the Race Committee.
2.4.   The Registration deadline is 1700 hours on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014. Entries after the Late Registration deadline may be accepted at the discretion of the Race Committee and will require an additional $100 tax-deductible donation to Columbia Junior Sailing Program.
3.        ENTRY FEES
The Entry Fee is $60. The Entry Fee is payable by credit card at fees will be refunded if a registrant notifies the Race Committee of the withdrawal prior to the Entry Deadline.
4.        SCHEDULE:
Friday, June 27, 2014
Entry deadline 1700 hours
Saturday, June 28, 2013
Warning 1230 hours
Dock Party 1600 hours
Awards Presentation 1730 hours
Sailing Instructions will be available at COLYC, Skyway Yacht Yard and online at  on or about June 23, 2014.





6.1.   The courses to be sailed will be windward-leeward with 2 to 6 legs.  Windward offset marks and leeward gates may be used. There will be a pursuit race, with handicaps calculated at the start.

6.2.   If a J/Cruise class is formed, they will sail a specially designated random leg course that will designed to be Fun for J/Boat Owners, their Families, and Friends.

6.3.   The racing area will be due East of Monroe Street Harbor entrance.  The exact location will be in the Sailing Instructions. 


7.       SCORING

Four races are scheduled of which 1 shall be completed to constitute a series. Each boat’s total score will be the sum of the scores for all races, and no score will be excluded.    This modifies RRS A2. 

8.       SOCIAL

Saturday, June 28:  J/Party – Awards Presentation, Free Goose Island 312, BYOB

9.       DOCKING

There will be complimentary dockage available at Columbia YC on Saturday June 28.  This dockage will be in a side tie configuration with other boats rafted alongside at least 2-3 deep.


8.       PRIZES

Awards will be presented to the top third of each class. Additional prizes may be awarded to participants by sponsors.



Competitors participate in the regatta entirely at their own risk. See RRS 4, Decision to Race. The race organizers (OA, Race Committee, Protest Committee, sponsors, or any other organization or official) will not accept any liability for material damage or personal injury or death sustained in conjunction with or prior to, during, or after the regatta.  By participating in this race, each competitor agrees to release the race organizers from any and all liability associated with such competitor’s participation in this event to the fullest extent permitted by law.



A big thank you to our title sponsors Skyway Yacht Works, LLC and Stearns Boating . Visit their websites either on your desktop or mobile device.

Skyway Yacht Works 

Stearns Boating           


       Also thank you to our supporting sponsors

       Gosse Island Brewery                                               

Dry Creek Vineyard:   

Taste any of Dry Creek’s  California wines  or Goose Island’s craft beers whenever you are at Columbia Yacht Club .




Each participating boat shall be insured with valid third-party liability insurance with a minimum cover of $300,000 per event or the equivalent.



For additional information please contact Steve at


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Strictly Sail Chicago - January 23-26 - Getting you on the water!

At Skyway we want boaters to get the most out of Chicago's short season.  That means ensuring that your repairs are done on time so you can leave the dock when you are ready. After all, pleasure boating should be easy and we want you to use your boat.  Help us get you going and think about what you need done--tell us when you arrive in  the fall.  Keep a list over the summer.  It's easy.

But getting boats into top shape is only half the battle. We also love to spend time on the water with our customers, and after the success we had with last year's inaugural J/Day regatta, we're sponsoring a few new events with the idea of getting people boating.

May 10 - Dash to the Dock
Even if you only use your boat a few times a season, you're definitely going to take at least one trip -- from your yard to the harbor. If you are at Skyway, this could be one of the highlights of your summer! Join us for the first annual Dash to the Dock, a fun race from the Calumet Harbor Break wall, to a finish line off the Shedd Aquarium and then come to the Columbia Yacht Club dock. Non members are welcome for this event! We will have helpers on hand at the yard to get you rigged, activities in the yard to keep the kids busy, and experts at Columbia to help resolve any minor issues that may arise on your first shake down of the season.


June 28th - 2nd Annual Skyway Yacht Works J/Day Regatta
A fun regatta for J/Boats of all sizes, unconventional courses make it a great event for a family day on the boat. Beginning with a pursuit race to pit the full range of J/boat designs against one another, fleets are then split for a slightly more conventional course race with a Frisbee tag component. Round out the day with a race to  the Columbia Yacht Club for awards, cocktails and food afterwards.

August 16-17 - Waukegan Rendezvous
While racers have no shortage of excuses to get off the dock, cruisers are often left to fend for themselves and that's just no fun. Sailing is better with friends! This year, Skyway is starting our Waukegan Rendezvous. Begin the cruise to Waukegan Harbor under the canopy of Chicago's Air and Water Show, and be met with food, friends and games for the kids . We'll all cruise back together on Sunday and, and with any luck arrive at the point in the show where we left. This is a great opportunity for families to get away together on the boat, racers who want a break, new boat owners who appreciate the safety
of a convoy for their first cruise, or anyone looking to escape
the city for a night.

September 13th - 3 Crib Fiasco
Most of you may be familiar with San Francisco Bay's "3 Bridge Fiasco", a free-for all pursuit race where all sorts of boats race each other on a course that is only defined as 3 marks that can be rounded in any order in any direction. We're not going to lie, we think it's a great idea and we're stealing it. Skyway Yacht Works will be hosting the first annual 3 Crib Fiasco on September 13th. This race is open to anyone. Want to race your J/24? Great! Want to come out with your TP52? Awesome! Want to go around the cribs in a Vanguard 15? More power to ya! Windsurfer? OK!
We'll provide a start line, a safety boat and a party. The mayhem is up to you!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Strictly Sail Chicago 2014 - January 23-26 - New website launch!

It's boat show season again and we can't wait to see all your smiling faces at this year's Strictly Sail Chicago hosted at Navy Pier!

This year, our focus is on helping you, the boater, get the absolute most out of your season. To start with, we're launching an all-new website. By Thursday morning, we'll be flipping the switch to serve you all the info you never knew you needed in one convenient place.

Our new website not only is more pleasing and easier to navigate, we're loading it with handy resources including an all-new mobile interface optimized with the information you may need in a hurry when you're on the water.

How many times have you been delivering the boat to or from the yard only to be surprised by a barge in the river? How many of you remember what to call the railroad bridge when requesting a bridge lift? (It's "NS5 over the Calumet", btw). On our new mobile site, you'll have quick access to the information you need when you're on the water at your fingertips. Not only do we have quick instructions for bridge hailing, we've embedded live ship tracking so you can see every barge, bulk carrier, tug boat, and even yachts equipped with AIS in real time.

For the sailboat racers, how often have you managed to get the whole crew down to the boat, get off the dock on time with sandwiches ready, only to realize that you forgot the sailing instructions for the day in the car and you're not sure which starting area to head to? We're keeping a collection of all the sailing instructions and racing area maps on the mobile page and we've even optimized them to load quickly and reliably for when you're out in the lake with only a scant bar of 2G service.

Visit us in Booth 126, near the Beneteau Display, to check it out and offer suggestions for other features we may be able to add in the future.


Friday, January 10, 2014


The secret to fairing is to have something to fair. If you are painting the bottom of the boat with what you think is an appropriate amount of barrier coat, when you start sanding you may find that your barrier coat is gone before the bottom is fair.
Doing a simple visual check may lead you to some big lows that may require filler.  When mixing up your fairing compound with resin, try to use the same resin the boat manufacturer used.

But before we put on our barrier coat, we sand the ready to paint bottom with a 6" DA using 80 grit 'Hook It' disks (we use Hook It, since we will be using a lot of disks and the stick it pads deteriorate with all this disk changing).  With this step you will have knocked down the 'big bumps' and this will pay big dividends as you attack the bottom of the boat with a long board over your head.
We recommend adding some body to your barrier coat so that you are in effect filling in the minor low spots as you paint.  That way, when you hit the boat with a long board, the high spots will knock down quicker and easier and meet your new, higher lows.

The next step is the simplest but most important step to do - inking the bottom.  You absolutely have to apply marking fluid to the boat so that as you sand, you know that every inch of the boat has been sanded and your lows (and highs) have been exposed. We like to use indigo ink, diluted with denatured alcohol, wiped on with a micro fiber rag. Using microfiber lets your hands feel the imperfections in the paint, which you can note by applying heavier ink.
After you have inked the bottom, it is time to bring out the big guns of fairing - the 30" long board.  Be sure to use a light one since you will be working overhead.  Your choice of anti-fouling coating will dictate the grit of abrasive you will use.  BaltoPlate or VC Offshore you will want to use 150 -180 grit. If you use SR-21 or VC-17, you will want to use 320 grit.  

Once you have selected your paint and hence your grit and the bottom is inked, it is time to attack the beast.  Since the task of long boarding is fairly mechanical, and there is really no hard starting line, we recommend starting in the middle of the boat, since this is where the most volume of sanding will take place.  We recommend starting in the middle, if, for no other reason than for sanity.  As you head toward the ends of the boat, the acreage actually declines and you actually feel like your productivity is accelerating, which will mean a lot to your aching shoulders.
The key to long boarding is to keep the curves fair by straightening them out.  By straighten out, I simply mean that you must sand in a big "X" pattern.  For example, while you are looking up at the boat, start a stroke beginning at upper left and ending at lower right, followed by a stroke that starts at upper right and finishes at lower left.  You must do this all over the boat, overlapping as you go until all the ink is gone.  The longer the strokes the fairer the bottom will be.  This is key, because the last thing you want to do is go back over the bottom after you are done.

You will want to find a piece of hose with the approximate radius of the curve at the keel hull joint.  You will have sanded up to the keel with the long board, but will have had to stop at the intersection with the hull.  Long strokes will be tough here.  This is also a good place to use Stick-It sand paper.  Stick it to the hose and sand in the radius of the keel hull seam in the "X" stroke as well as you can all along the seam - forward to aft.

The other exception to long strokes is up at the water line, where, if you are not painting the topsides, you will want to stay off the paint.  You will have to start and stop your sanding strokes more or less right at the line.  Good masking tape is key here.  You may have to re-mask the boat after sanding just to be sure you do not end up painting up to a jagged or thick edge.  This little cosmetic oversight would definitely diminish all the time and effort spent on the rest of the bottom.

After the boat is all long boarded, it must be prepared for paint.  That means wipe down.  We like MEK.  It is a deep cleaner and flashes off relatively soon.  Not as fast as Acetone but not as long as Xylene.  We are not removing stubborn grease and dirt, just getting the dust off and ready for paint.