Author Archives: stanhoney

mainsheet and traveler

Illusion has her traveler on the aft edge of the bridge deck, which is unusual.

Interestingly, George Griffith mentioned that this is exactly where he intended for the traveler to go on Cal 40’s, but after sailing Persephone, he found that with a full crew it got too crowded in the front of the cockpit.

Also, he originally intended the primary genoa winch to be the after winch, which is why the aft end of the winch islands is wider, but he quickly discovered that Cal 40’s don’t like weight aft.  So nearly all boats moved the traveler aft, and the primaries forward.

On Illusion, however, we mostly race doublehanded, so we don’t have a crowding problem.  We have a 6:1 with 24:1 fine tune mainsheet that can be trimmed directly from the ratchet block and doesn’t need a winch.  When doublehanded or singlehanded it is terrific to be able to steer, and adjust both main and traveler.  Also, having the traveler farther forward allows it to be effectively used at somewhat wider angles close reaching.







stiffening the hull, extra storage, propane locker


Illusion’s pilot berths have been replaced with shelves, and the faces that holds the drawers adjacent to the settees have been moved outboard about 8 inches.  The settees are fixed and do not slide.

Given that we didn’t need the space for the settees to slide under the drawers, we removed the drawers and used the old drawer faces as hinged cabinet doors.  There is now a longitudinal bulkhead that extends from the drawer faces down to the hull, and between each cabinet there is a small athwartship bulkhead that separates the cabinets and is also glassed to the hull.  This has made the middle of the boat very rigid.


Under the gunnel outboard of the quarterberths we installed storage lockers.  Those panels also have stiffened the boat.  the forward most locker is a vented propane locker that has a removable, gasketed panel (varnished) that is used to remove the tanks to fill them.  We carry two 20 lb, aluminum, horizontal, propane tanks, one on each side.  The tank compartments are vented to the thruhull that is above the water line just below the propane locker that is also used to drain the cockpit seats.  We have a removable propane Cozy cabin heater which explains why we can carry two tanks.

Strictly speaking, this propane installation does not meet ABYC because propane lockers are not supposed to open into the interior of a boat.  Whenever Illusion has been surveyed, however, every surveyor has noted that the installation is not precisely compliant with ABYC, but it is safe, the lockers are airtight and vented outboard, and that they would have done exactly the same thing if they owned the boat.  We’ve never had an insurance company complain given that the survey says it is a safe and sensible solution.





engine controls

We wanted the porthole in the forward end of the cockpit well to be usable for light and ventilation, so we put the engine controls behind a Beckson porthole in the aft end of the cockpit well.  The Beckson porthole allows the engine controls to be entirely waterproof in heavy going when filling the cockpit with water.  We found that by using a barrel nut as the knob, we could even fit the engine kill cable in the panel, behind the Beckson portlight.


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radar, removable

When cruising or delivering the boat we carry a removable radar.  We have a modified car that just slides up the spinnaker pole track, and carries the radar scanner.  The wire pulls up the mast on a leader and exits near the scanner.

The scanner is mounted on the car so that the edge of the scanner just touches the pole track.  The scanner has to be rotated a bit so that the cable gland is out of the way.  It is easy to configure the software to handle the twisted installation so that straight ahead on the boat is straight up on the display.

The radar display is on a pivot hear the companionway, so that the radar display can be pivoted to be viewable from either on deck or below.

When racing everything comes off, the scanner, display, and cable.






standing rigging, staysail stay, running backs, doublehead rig, heavy weather jib, mast pumping

Illusion has a removable staysail stay.  The staysail tack fitting is one third of the way aft from the stem to the mast and the staysail stay, when set, runs parallel to the headstay.  That is all pretty conventional.

The staysail tack fitting has identical pad eyes above and below the deck, with a G10 backup under the deck.  There is a tie wire with turnbuckle below deck.  We tension the stay with a half-Navtec turnbuckle above deck, that is allowed to twist due to the swivel on the Tylaska snapshackle.  There is a twist shackle used to attach the tack of the staysail.  We used the half-turnbuckle on a snapshackle approach so that the hanks on the genoa staysail can slide over it, nearly all the way down to the deck.  On deliveries or when cruising we sometimes keep the staysail hanked on the staysail stay, in a bag, when it isn’t being used so it is very nice that the staysail can slide down close to the deck.

We have a 1/4 inch SS staysail stay for deliveries but for Hawaii races when we want to use the staysail as part of a double-head rig with a JT or blast-reacher for the first 2 days, we use a Vectran staysail stay.  It gets a little chafe from the hanks on the staysail.

sheave used for both pole topping lift, and as staysail halyard. Note anti-chafe rods.

sheave used for both pole topping lift, and as staysail halyard. Note anti-chafe rods.

Our genoa staysail is made very heavy and serves both as a genoa staysail for doublehead reaching on the first 2-3 days of the Hawaii races, but also serves as our heavy weather jib for beating in over 30 knots.  It’s size allows it to count as the heavy weather jib under the OSR’s.

We carry the genoa staysail along with a double or triple reefed main in above 30 knots upwind.  We’ve carried it upwind in 42 knots true on the way from Hawaii to the Northwest, with a triple reefed main.  That was the top end of that combination.

Our removable running backstays attach via T-tangs in the vicinity of the removable staysail stay, which is also attached with a T-tang.  For inshore racing we remove the runners and the staysail stay.

Just below the staysail stay T tang is our topping lift exit.


inshore racing mode with no runners and subforestay


We have a somewhat heavier than usual topping lift and sheave, that we use as the staysail halyard as well as for a topping lift.  Once the kite is up we disconnect the staysail stay and lash it aft.  Of course it has to be stowed aft for dip pole gybes.

Beating, in 30-40+ knots, a Cal 40 balances perfectly under a staysail and reefed main, better than if one uses a storm jib or heavy weather jib set on the forestay.

We have kept the normal Cal 40 forward lowers.  They reduce the mast pumping when sailing upwind in heavy air, but for long beats like Hawaii to Alaska or Hawaii to California, it is nice to set the staysail


runners and subforestay installed

stay and running backs.  With that gear set the mast does not pump at all.

We have Navtec -10 rod everywhere except the backstay is -8 rod.   We’ve chosen to keep the forward lowers but if we sailed without them we’d go up a size on the rods, to -12, on the lowers.



half turnbuckle allows adjustment and allows staysail to drop to deck


tie wire under deck to bottom of chain locker bulkhead


stanchion bases, toe rails, mooring cleats


We located our stanchions to be at convenient locations relative to the sheeting positions, shrouds, and winches, and still meet the maximum OSR spacing.  Our hull to deck joint is glassed so we do not need a continuous toe rail to conceal the deck overlap on the hull flange.

So we put on a J24 style toe rail where the stanchion bases are maximum outboard, and the toe rail has independent pieces of teak that are between the stanchion bases.  There are several advantages.  One is that if you have a collision and damage a piece of the toe rail, it is easily replaced without a major woodworking project.  When we milled the original toe rail teak pieces, we made a few spares.  Another advantage is the leeward deck drains quickly because there are large open outlets adjacent to all stanchion bases.  Finally by having the stanchions maximum outboard, it makes it easier to sheet the foot of the genoa inside the lifelines and outside the upper shrouds, and gives more clearance to winch handles.

For backup plates we use 1/2 inch G10.  We filled the gap outboard of the deck core and inboard of the hull flange with epoxy mixed with filler.

The mooring cleats are maximum outboard right on the toe rail so we don’t need chocks, and there is no chafe.  The mooring cleats are similarly backed up with G10.

The bow and stern pulpit legs terminate on pad eyes.  We find we use the additional attachments often when changing headsails etc.

We were a bit worried that the lack of a continuous toe rail might change the Cal 40 look, but it looks fine.


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anchoring gear, chain storage, bow roller



When cruising Illusion we temporarily install an anchor windlass.  When racing, the windlass comes off and we have a painted G10 plate that attaches to the deck with the same fastener holes and is painted to match the deck.

When cruising we carry 200 feet of 5/16 G4 chain, 250 feet of 3/4 nylon rode, and a 44 lb Rocna anchor as our primary ground tackle. We have only used the nylon rode once, when we had to anchor in a depth of 100 feet in Alaska.  We carry a Danforth HT20 for a stern anchor and a Fortress FX37 as a storm anchor with associated rodes.

We had the normal headaches with the chain “castling”, i.e. piling up into a cone, then toppling over, which makes a major hassle to pull the chain out the next time you drop anchor.  The frustrating solution, especially when doublehanded which is nearly all we do, is for one person to be in the forepeak spreading the chain around.

We stumbled on a terrific solution for Cal 40’s.  The Cal 40 has a web that attaches the two sides of the hull in the forepeak locker.  Forward and below the web is a space between the web and the hull, that extends down under the storage area under the forepeak bunk, and opens to the bilge just forward of the mast step.  As you can see in the photos, we cut a round 6 inch hole in the web, positioned just where the chain falls.  The chain neatly falls through that hole and then slides aft and down.  All 200 feet of 5/16 chain fit between the web and the hull, and the weight ends up much farther down and aft than if the chain just sits in the chainlocker.  It works so well we wonder whether Lapworth had that in mind originally.  It is the best solution to chain castling that we’ve seen on any boat.

We tie the nylon rode up under the gunnel to keep it dry and out of the way.  We can quickly release the coil of nylon if we need it by undoing the clam cleat.

We replaced our bronze stemhead fitting with a fabricated SS one.  The forestay chainplate is in exactly the same location as using the class stemhead fitting, so we are still a Cal 40.  The stemhead fitting includes a roller that is right adjacent to the chainplate.  It is enormously strong including for sideways loads, and adds nearly no weight because it is part of the stemhead fitting.  Having the chain roller be strong for side loads turns out to be important given the tendency for Cal 40’s to sail around at anchor.

We don’t miss the sharp mooring line chocks that were part of the original stemhead fitting.  Instead we mount our mooring line cleats right on the rail so that mooring lines tie to them and have a fair lead without chocks and with no chafe.  I recall that George Griffith expressed frustration that the Cal 40 was not set up this way originally.

We have a large shackle that keeps the anchor in the roller when under way, keeps the chain from jumping the roller, and that we also use to dead end the inboard end of our snubber when we are at anchor.  By dead-ending the inboard end of the snubber to that shackle, there is never any chafe on the snubber or on the hull as the boat sails around at anchor.


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emptying sink when under sail, new counter

sink drain pump, FW plumbing

Some Cal40’s have tried to move the sink closer to centerline in order to make it drain when under sail.  We instead borrowed an idea from kayaks.  We put a Bosworth Guzzler diaphragm pump under the sink, and made it operable by pulling on a line.  The Bosworth pump company makes pumps that are perfect for this and have a spring internal to the pump so that the handle extends by itself and only needs to be pulled down.  It works great.  In a few pumps you can empty the sink even when rail down on starboard tack.  This is one of our best upgrades.  The line with the black ball, coming out of the cabinet below the sink, is the line that actuates the pump and empties the sink.  There is a Harken Bullet block turning the line under the pump handle, and a Harken upright Bullet block just inside the fairlead in the cabinet through which the line runs.

An additional benefit is that any diaphragm pump has two integrated valves, so if you forget to close the thru hull when beating on starboard, the sink doesn’t fill, although we also have a normal valve that we shut off when we remember.

Sally found an outfit that makes custom SS sinks and counters for restaurants and fishing boats, and had them make a custom sink with built in drainboard and fiddles for Illusion.  It allows Stan to spash water around with abandon when washing dishes and it all finds its way down the drain.

In the photo above you can see two quick disconnect plumbing fittings.  We have two freshwater tanks (one in bilge and one under head counter) and two freshwater pumps (an electric pump and a foot pump in the galley).  These quick disconnects allow us to hook either FW tank to either pump.   If we are really trying to conserve water we run the pressure pump on saltwater, leaving the galley foot pump as the only source of freshwater on the boat.



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Engine installation and engine box.


We installed a Yanmar 3GM30FV.  Bob Pearce did the installation, and did an outstanding job.  We use the 2.61 reduction gear, the built in V-drive, and an 18 inch two-blade max prop.  We power about about 6.25 knots at 2700 rpm, using about 2/3 gallon per hour.

When we bought Illusion, there was no engine and the Walthers V-drive was ruined.  We found that if we used an engine with a built-in V-drive, and moved the engine forward and down in the boat, it could perfectly connect to the existing shaft location.   Of course we had to build new mounts.  Moving the engine forward, down, and saving the weight of the Walthers V-drive were bonuses of this approach.  Using an engine with an integrated V-drive also allowed us to move the forward edge of the engine box aft, so we gained room on both ends.   Moving the engine forward allowed us to put in a bulkhead at the forward end of the cockpit well, i.e. the aft edge of the bridge deck that runs down to the hull.  This bulkhead stiffed the boat and carries our traveler load.

The engine box pivots on two removable spring-pin hinges on its forward lower edge.  We designed the engine box so that when it pivots up and forward, it just clears the wood trim under the companionway.  The box is all one piece so that water that comes down the companionway never can get to the engine, it just flows around the engine box then onto the cabin floor, then into the keel well.  If we need to do serious work on the engine we remove the box by pulling the two hinge pins and set the box on a settee.

The box is shaped to be used as the two bottom steps of the companionway ladder.  The first step just clears the transmission/v-drive, the second step clears the top of the exhaust mixing-U, and then we have two more steps that are part of a SS ladder that pivots down from the companionway.

It’s hard to describe but the photos might make it clear.

The gauges above the engine box are engine-hours, oil pressure, coolant temperature, and fuel vacuum.  They are all mechanical gauges except of course for the hourmeter.

The waterlift muffler is aft of the engine, against the new bulkhead that is at the forward side of the cockpit well.  The exhaust goes up from the waterlift muffler to just under the bridge deck, and then goes aft via a fiberglass exhaust tube, at a slight angle down, all the way to the transom.

We replaced the standard Yanmar-Hitachi alternator with a Balmar, and upgraded to a serpentine belt.  It is terrific to never have any belt dust.





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Freshwater and diesel tanks in keel well, bilge pumps.


We have both the diesel fuel tank and fresh water tanks in the keel on Illusion.

The diesel tank is clearly visible, and sits on top of the encased lead ballast.  It is a conventional aluminum tank that is painted with Gluvit and sits on two G10 fore-aft runners so that water can pass underneath it from forward in the boat into the keel well.

We fill the fuel tank directly via the visible port.  We had no easy way to run a fill hose from the keel well to the deck.  It also turns out that filling a fuel tank directly into a large opening is easy because you can see the fuel level, it is trivial to avoid overfilling or spills, and there is never a problem with a vent spurting.  The key is to have a large opening.

Because the vent doesn’t need to have large capacity to let air escape during filling we use a tiny 1/8 inch vent line that is visible.  The vent line is only there to let air in to replace the used fuel, which is very slow, 2/3 of a gallon per hour maximum in our case. The vent line runs to a clear PVC pipe that is inserted in the cabin vertical support pipe, and is full of silica gel.  The vent is open to the inside of the boat through a pin hole at the top of the PVC pipe full of silica gell.  The idea is that the silica gel keeps the fuel dry and keeps moisture out of any air that enters the tank via the vent, and there is no possibility of water entering the vent line because the vent line does not go above deck.

It seems to work.  The bottom of our tank is clearly visible through the fill port and we’ve never seen any moisture.  My suspicion is that most water in fuel tanks gets there through leaks in the deck fill, and directly via the deck vent when there is green water on deck or during wash downs.   Many race boats use the same approach as we use on Illusion, and fill the tanks directly down below, and only have a tiny vent line that runs high up in the accommodation but does not go above deck, avoiding any possibility for water entering through the fill or vent.

Directly aft  of the lead ballast we have a G10 partition that keeps a 6 inch area open to the bottom of the keel for bilge strum boxes and bilge pump hoses, and it allows us to visually see to the bottom of the keel well.  Aft of that partition is an off-the-shelf fresh water bladder tank.

The diesel tank holds about 50 gallons and the freshwater tank holds about 35 gallons.

We put the freshwater in the bilge because it was a good use for the unused volume, and it seemed dumb to have a keel full of air.

Also visible in the photos is our engine raw water intake.  The corrugated hose runs to the cockpit operated diaphragm bilge pump.  The white PVC hose and pipe run to the diaphragm pump in the head, via a Y-valve, so that we can use the diaphragm pump that is associated with our Lavac head as a backup bilge pump.

Our electric bilge pump is a portable, 3800 GPH, centrifugal pump that has a coil of collapsible hose and a long wire with battery clips.  We carry it in a bag as an emergency pump.



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Below is a close up of the cabin post that supports the deck.  You can just see the blue silica gel that is inside the clear PVC pipe, that is inside the post.   We have to re-dry the silica gel about every three years since we installed it.