Logs of Fleet Members

These log exerpts recount memorable moments spent aboard the Fleet's Alerions. Read on!

From the log of Gene Knapp’s Keuka

November 16, 2015

Propeller Considerations for a shaft-driven Alerion Express 28

I purchased a 1994 Alerion Express 28, Hull #31, two years ago and sail the boat on Lake Michigan out of Montrose Harbor in Chicago. The previous owner took excellent care of her and I have done my best to continue to maintain the boat in Bristol fashion. One improvement I was contemplating is to switch from the 12x9, RH Martec folding prop which is currently mounted on the ¾” shaft drive Yanmar 1GM10, 9HP diesel engine and replace it with a feathering propeller.

My experience under power has been poor. The engine will only come up to 2600-2800 rpm and, when pushed, there can be a lot of smoke. Top end motoring speed is 4.7 to 5.0 knots. When I purchased the boat I noted the pin on the Martec prop was worn and the blades were quite loose so I replaced the pin and re-bedded the strut, but the blades continue to be pretty “floppy” and there is no question the prop has experienced significant wear (20+ years will do that!). As to reverse . . . let’s just say it can be a “Spiritual Experience”.

When reading the Chesapeake Alerion Log online yesterday, I noted there was mention made that several boats in the San Francisco Bay fleet with similar propulsion gear switched from Martec folding props to Max Prop feathering props. I was interested in knowing what size 2 or 3 blade prop they switched to and how things have worked out using the new feathering prop?

The Chesapeake Alerion contact put me in touch with Ralf Morgan, a member of the SF Bay fleet and a contributor to the original log entry. He promptly replied with the following observations:

  • The size of the Martec prop, 12x9, is probably the cause of my motoring problems. The pitch may be too low.
  • A prop with too large a pitch can cause similar problems. When he first got his Alerion, it had a Martec 12x12 folding prop. The engine would not come up to rpm and would smoke quite a bit. The local Yanmar/prop guru suggested reducing the pitch to 12x11. He ordered new blades from Martec, put them on and solved all the problems. Good speed under power, engine comfortable at 2800 rpm and no more smoke stains on the transom. Engine rpm can now go up to its designed 3200 rpm maximum.
  • With the 1GM10, there is a real danger in putting on too much prop. While the feathering props may be a little better in reverse, they tend to have significantly more drag under sail and, given the limited horsepower of the 1GM10, don’t add much, if anything to forward motoring while adding a fair bit to engine load.
  • Unless I spend a lot of time in reverse, I might want to stay with a Martec feathering prop but change the pitch to 12x11.
  • Also, on the Martec props, eventually the pins and blades do get loose and it pays to send the prop back to Martec to have them recondition and rebalance it.

From the experiences Ralf related, I plan to purchase a new 12x11 RH Martec folding prop and see what difference this makes in achieving better RPM performance and improved forward speed. After some time with it next season, I’ll update this log entry with my observations and conclusions.

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From the log of Jim Luke's Rampant:

October 7, 2015

Rigging Refit

Last fall, after 18 years of faithful service in all kinds of weather, I decided the time had come to change out the shrouds and stays on my Alerion. In addition, there was wear on the mast where riggers had climbed and where the mast had been pulled several times to determine the cause of difficult mainsail hoisting.

I used Annapolis Rigging for the project and understand mine was the second Alerion-28 rig they refitted in 2014.

The mast and Hoyt boom were pulled last November after the boat was put up for the winter. The hardware was removed from the mast and the paint stripped. The anodized hardware with wear was re-anodized, and the mast and both booms were Awlgripped in the color originally used by Hall Spars. The rig was reinstalled this spring before the boat was launched.

It went without a hitch. The mast and both booms look brand new. The planning and attention to detail that went into each phase of the refit by Annapolis Rigging made what I thought might be a daunting project easily manageable.

The cost was slightly under $7,000, plus yard crane fees to pull and replace the mast.

Annapolis Rigging 7346 Edgewood Road, Annapolis, MD 21403; (410) 493-9522; annapolisrigging.com. The contact person is Jay Herman, jay@annapolisrigging.com.

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From the log of David Cochran's Ergo:

May 22, 2014

Another Fine Mess

I invited my friend John, who is not a sailor, along with my normal sailing partner Paul to go sailing one afternoon. We drove to Galesville, MD on the Chesapeake where I keep my Alerion Express 28. We got there around 4:00 pm and started to prepare the boat to go out. I looked to the west and saw dark clouds. I commented that the weather in that direction always goes to the north and east so we were safe. About that same time, John got a notice on his phone that there was a tornado warning for our area until 5:30. I looked at the clouds and they seemed to be going the direction I had predicted so we pulled out of the slip and went out onto West River.

The wind was out of the southwest at around 5 knots so I headed that direction and Paul put up the sails. We headed south close hauled. As we were nearing a point where we would have to go farther up the river or turn and head out toward the bay Paul said, “Dave, the clouds are following us and are going south.” I looked west and sure enough, he was right. My first thought was this is not good but not a disaster.

We tacked around and headed north. I looked down the river and there was a wall of rain at the mouth where it joins the Rhode River. I said, “Drop the sails.” Paul immediately rolled up the jib, dropped the main and put sail ties on it. I cranked up the engine — an 8 hp Yanmar. I turned to John and explained that a lot of times people wait too long and then it is too late to put the sails away. When Paul had finished with the sails he pulled the hatch cover closed and said we should go back to the slip. He then suggested to John that he might want to go below in order to stay dry. I didn’t think we would have time to get back to the slip before the rain was upon us. We put on foul weather jackets but not life jackets. Paul next suggested we tie up at the gas dock.

... the storm squall hit ...

As we got even with the gas dock, the storm squall hit. Winds that had been maybe 5 knots went to screaming in 5 seconds and swung 90 degrees to the west. Seas went from calm to 3 to 4 feet in the same amount of time. Horizontal rain came with that. I increased the throttle and we were moving slowly forward into the very strong wind, waves, and rain. Then it started to hail, ice balls about the size of ping pong balls. The rain and hail were coming at us with such force that we could barely see.

But we were making headway. Even though it was nearly impossible to see where we were going we could see the red marker just ahead to starboard. Paul said to slow down because to the left of that marker was very shallow. I backed off on the throttle. We lost steerage and started to fall off from the wind. I increased the throttle until we had steerage and then we tried to head a little to starboard. The wind took us way to starboard and we were heeling seriously but not broaching. I pushed the throttle to the max. As we were being driven to starboard Paul said to give it more gas. I said that that was all we had.

... danger of going ashore ...

Eventually, we got the bow turned back into the wind and I looked over to see where we were. The red marker was way off to the port. In fact, we were now in danger of going ashore on the other side of the river and needed to go to port to avoid the green marker. However, we were in control and the wind and rain seemed to be lessening slightly. At this time I noticed that John had gone below. That was the best thing he could have done as he would have been in the way as Paul and I traded handling the tiller.

At this point I started to laugh. I haven’t laughed that hard in years. I immediately realized that this was the most fun I had had in a very long time.

It seemed like the squall lasted 15 minutes but it was probably closer to 5. Within a short time the wind died down to less than 10 knots, the sun came back out and a rainbow appeared on the lee shore nearby. We put up the sails and sailed out to the middle of the bay and back. It turned out to be a great day of sailing.

I later asked Paul if he was scared. He hesitated and I said I was not but I was concerned. He agreed with that term. We never asked John how he felt. He should have been scared but then he had no idea how serious things were and how good at this Paul and I were.

A local restaurant recorded winds of 40 knots. I think it was more on the water.

What we did right:
Dropping the sails immediately upon seeing bad weather approaching.
Putting on jackets.
Heading into the wind and avoiding a lee shore.
Remaining calm.
Working as a team.

What we did wrong:
Not waiting to see just where the dark clouds were headed.
Not putting on life jackets.

As a final note, Paul and I are not thrill seekers. We are cautious sailors that seem to occasionally get into situations that challenge our abilities.

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From the log of Jack Detweiler’s Skimmer

September 18, 2012

Jib Boom Extender

Marti and I have Alerion Express 28, hull number 160, built in 2001. It has the Hoyt Jib Boom but the factory-fitted Light Air Jib Boom Extender was not available at that time. This made it necessary for us to go forward with a whisker pole if we wanted to sail in anything less than steady heavy air when sailing wing and wing. Also, in light air on a reach it was hard to get the jib boom to go out on the leeward side. “Light Air” Jib Boom Extender is probably a misnomer as it is hard to make the boom behave in many conditions.

A lengthy e-mail from an AE-28 owner on San Francisco Bay that describes various issues with the boat and the remedies for those issues is posted in this section of our website. One item covered was the installation of an aftermarket Jib Boom Extender. See here for the description of the Jib Boom Extender and photos of my installation.

I contacted Rick Palachi of Shanty Irish Marine and asked him if he could install one for us. He did some research and contacted Ralf Morgan, a member of the San Francisco Bay AE28 Fleet. Ralf works for Keefe Kaplan Maritime, Inc (KKMI) in Point Richmond, CA. We ordered the Jib Boom Extender Kit from him. The kit comes with all of the parts and detailed instructions and costs about $840 including shipping. Ralf can be reached at 501-307-7905 or morgan@kkmi.com. Rick at Shanty Irish Marine (shantyirish@comcast.net) installed it for us and he tells me that now that he has done it once, he can do it for $1,250 including the cost of the kit, his labor and taxes.

The operation of the Jib Boom Extender is exceptional and allows us to control the jib boom in various wind conditions without ever leaving the cockpit. We can wing out the jib boom forward of 90 degrees and we can even sail on a broad reach with the boat in a wing and wing configuration (jib boom to windward). The piston has a pressure of 150 lbs. and seems to do the trick without causing excessive pressure on the sheet.

The only concern that we had initially was tacking in extremely light air. The factory-installed extender has trouble allowing the boom to cross when tacking to windward. Ralf assured me that it was not a problem and if it was slow to come across to just give the jib sheet a quick snap and that it would come right over. When going wing and wing or on a reach in lighter air, it helps to ease the jib outhaul a tad so that the tension on the boom end doesn't restrict it from going out.

The first time out with it, Marti and I sailed in Spa Creek in just a few knots of air. In drifting conditions, it seemed a little cranky, but as soon as you got a little more wind, like 4 or 5 knots, it was not a problem. I have more trouble getting the full length battens to invert in the really light stuff than we have getting the jib to cross. This installation was reported to work better than the factory installation and Paul Rohrkemper, who has now sailed on boats with both set ups, agrees that the extender from KKMI is superior.

Here’s a video of the jib boom extender in action, going from a broad reach to a wing on wing run in light airs:

If anyone has any questions or would like to go sailing and see it, please give me a call. It works better than a whisker pole and is faster racing, because you don't have to set the pole after rounding the windward mark and then take it down before rounding the leeward mark. It is also less dangerous as no one has to go forward on our narrow side deck boats, most of which don't have life lines and set a pole. Marti didn't like it with us as I would put her on the helm when I went forward. She would get nervous sailing by the lee that she would have an accidental jibe, and in fact did it on one occasion. Fortunately, I stayed aboard. This is a great set up whether racing, cruising or day sailing and is the reason that the San Francisco Fleet has made it a One Design Rule that you can't leave the cockpit.

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From the log of Harry Allen, San Francisco Bay Alerion Express 28 Fleet

June 5, 2012

Problems and Solutions

Harry and Carol Allen sail and race Arabella in San Francisco Bay, a body of water known for its heavy air and big seas. He has collected the following problems and solutions from his own experiences as well as the collective experience of the other 24 owners sailing in the SF Bay Fleet, especially Ralf Morgan, skipper of Ditzy and manager of a local boatyard that services a number of Alerions in the fleet.


Stuffing box. Stuffing box on some non-saildrive boats incorrectly installed, scored the shaft, leaks too much. Shaft replaced and stuffing box replaced with dripless shaft seal.

Prop size, design. One boat with saildrive recently learned that the factory installed prop was smaller than the size recommended by manufacturers so it was replaced with the larger recommended prop and performance reported to be substantially improved.

Several boats with shaft drives have replaced the feathering Martec prop with a folding Max prop which gives much better performance, especially backing. (Editor’s note: slightly increased drag under sail)

Mast and Jib Boom

Mast step not on centerline. Mast had to be removed and step reset on centerline.

Main sail cars. Some boats with fully battened mains have had problems with Fredrickson or Ronstan cars on the mainsail. The cars consist of the car frame, some balls, probably Delrin, some small plastic spacers and some stainless screws. Sometimes the plastic spacers get worn out which may increase friction getting the sail up. On a couple of occasions the screws have come out at inopportune times, once falling into the sail track and jamming the main in a half-hoisted condition ultimately resulting in moderate grief and expense. Solution is to check the cars occasionally, replace worn parts, put thread lock on the screws. Spacers come in several very slightly different sizes and shapes and have to be very carefully checked to make sure the right replacements are used for the particular groove in the mast.

Jib outhaul issues. On the foredeck just aft of where the jib boom goes through the deck there is a pad eye to which a block for the jib outhaul is attached. The size and quality of this factory installed item has varied over the years, but on many boats it is a small Schaeffer stamped pad eye. The jib outhaul is the most heavily loaded line on the boat and the pad eyes on a few boats have failed under load at inopportune times, usually in breezy conditions and bumpy seas. The remedy to prevent failure is to replace the pad eye with a Harken swivel block with a stainless steel backing plate under the deck or use a larger Schaeffer cast pad eye with reinforcing plate with a high load block by Ronstan or others.

The factory installed cam cleat for the jib outhaul is inadequate and impossible to deal with under load if the wind is blowing at all. Most local boats have replaced it with a rope clutch which leads to the winch.

(Editor’s note: The jib outhaul was designed to be doubled — led from the double block assembly on the boom end through the clew cringle and back to the d-ring on the block assembly. Many owners tie the outhaul directly to the clew cringle. Doubling the line reduces the load on the turning block and at the cam cleat by one half. See photo.)

Outhaul lead

Jib boom lifting. The forward end of the jib boom is held in place under the foredeck with a threaded bolt going through a triangular piece of plywood or composite material about ½” thick which is glassed into the forepeak. The bolt goes vertically through a big composite plug inside the end of the boom, down through the triangular piece where there is a flat washer and nut on the underside of the triangular piece. There is no bushing around the bolt between the bolt and the triangular piece. The bolt does not have a smooth shaft with threads only at the end where the nut is, it is threaded along its entire length. Over time the threads cut into the unprotected triangular piece, wearing the originally round hole into an oblong hole. The result is that the forward end of the boom is no longer fixed in place. This can be detected by putting the boom on the centerline, going on the foredeck to the mast and lifting up on the aft end of the boom. If the hole is not worn the boom will not lift up. If the hole is worn the boom will lift up, on some boats as much as two inches or even more, and you can feel that the boom is rising at the aft end and the forward end is wobbling around and moving about instead of being fixed in place. The effect of the oblong hole is that when the boat is sailed off the wind and the jib boom is out, the aft end of the boom rises up, adversely affecting sail shape and there is no way to correct it since the sheet will only pull the boom in, not down. An even more compelling benefit of fixing the wobble is actually upwind, since the back of the boom lifts less enabling more options/control of the jib leech. The remedy is to remove the boom and the ball, which can be tricky (and expensive if the $500 ball gets damaged in the process), ream out the oblong hole, insert a hat bushing, metal or composite, replace the bolt through the bushing with a bolt with a smooth shaft and reassemble.

Jib boom extender. Several boats have installed a local version of the light air jib boom extender which is far superior to the factory version, weighs less, is less complicated and costs less. A G-10 plate (a high strength composite) is attached to the underside of the foredeck on the center line, just forward of the bulkhead using Plexus high strength adhesive. A stainless post with a ball end is attached to the plate.

G-10 Plate and Ball

An Edson rudder post collar with a tiller arm made by KKMI out of G-10 extending parallel to the boom is attached to the boom a few inches below the foredeck. On the arm another post with ball end is attached. A stainless gas spring of specific length for each installation, with a pressure of 150 pounds, socket ends, is connected between the two posts. When the boom is on the center line, the spring is compressed to the maximum.

Tiller Arm and Ball

When the sheet is released the spring pushes the boom out. A knot in the sheet at the correct place prevents it from going through the cleat, thereby preventing the boom from going out too far and damaging the gas spring. Two knots are required for double-ended sheets.

Boom out

Works great. If a boat already has a factory system this is probably not worth the time and expense, but if a boat has none, this setup is definitely better than the factory version.

Jib traveler. Some boats with jib booms have added a traveler track like the one used on boats without jib booms. The jib boom is sheeted through a block on the traveler car. This comes in handy when you are trying to move the jib boom to the upwind side for wing and wing. Just pull the car to upwind side. It’s easier to get the boom across without sailing by the lee. Upwind, the traveler allows for a better jib sheet arrangement where the jib sheet actually pulls the end of the boom down instead of towards the centerline. This allows for two basic modes going upwind, without closing off the slot. Light air mode is jib sheet tight which pulls the end of the boom down and jib outhaul eased which makes for a fuller rounder jib while still allowing for leech twist. Heavy air mode is jib sheet eased slightly, allowing the jib boom to flex up with the jib outhaul tight. This flattens the jib while still allow leech twist and control. Obviously, you have lots of trim options in between. At no point does the end of the jib boom ever want to be more than an inch or so inside the edge of the cabin top. The one thing we never do is to use the jib traveler to pull the car inboard going upwind! All this refinement does add extra lines into the cockpit and requires remembering to release and trim it, so it makes this simple boat somewhat less simple.

Sheets and Control Lines

Mainsheet cleat. The mainsheet cleat can be difficult to release under load. On one occasion this resulted in a serious T bone collision during a race. Some boats have replaced it with a Harken trigger cleat. Others use an Oxam cleat as used on catamarans. They like it but it is expensive and has tight tolerances if something goes wrong.

Jib Sheet. Some boats have replaced the cam cleat for the jib sheet with trigger cleats. Others use the Spinlocks. Some boats have double-ended the jib sheet to Ronstan swivel mounts on each side of the cabin top so it is easier to adjust the sheet from either side of the boat.

Traveler and Backstay. Some boats have re-rigged the traveler and backstay controls, leading them forward. On one version, they are brought forward under the side deck alongside the cockpit where they exit through cam cleats behind the teak splashboard or under it so they can be controlled by helmsman or crew. In another version they are led under the cockpit floor and up through the barney post. On some boats which have done it this way, the two traveler controls and one backstay are on separate swivel mounts with cam cleats on the barney post and can be controlled by helmsman or crew. On other boats, the traveler controls are on the post, but the backstay control is on a small cam cleat on the arm below the mainsheet cleat using a special Harken apparatus designed to have these two controls together at the helmsman. These are good for racing, probably not much use otherwise, although removing the traveler apparatus from the aft of the cockpit eliminates the problem of a slack mainsheet catching on the traveler cam cleats during a gybe.

Fit and Finish

Port lights leaking. Some were fixed under warranty by local yards, using sealant, etc., with mixed results. On some boats the screws were in the wrong place and didn't really hold anything together.

Forward hatch leaking. No successful fixes known yet.

Chain plates leaking. Some owners re caulk on deck every once in a while. Others let it go. Any effective repair is likely to be labor intensive and cost prohibitive. The best product we have found is called Flexbond 5000. If the area around the chainplates is cleaned out well this stuff seems to grab a hold and not move. (Editor’s note: Should be addressed or water intrusion in the deck layup could lead to delamination — a big problem)

Corrosion. Running lights get corroded, maybe due to dissimilar metal between bulb and fixture. Result is no running lights. Some have tried to seal the lights better. Others switched to small LED lights. The stainless steel LED running lights made by Atwood which were used to replace the Perkos seem to be working well so far. Another sure fix seems to be to confine sailing to daylight hours, as is appropriate for a daysailer.

A lot of corrosion on mast, main boom and jib boom where stainless fasteners are used. Remedy is to remove, cleanup, apply Tef Gel (or Forespar Marlube TEF 45, a less sticky but less expensive alternative) to all fasteners and replace. Tef Gel or Forespar available at some marine suppliers or on internet. It's messy to deal with but really works.

Clogged deck drains. Deck drain hoses under cockpit side deck become clogged with algae, bird droppings, etc. and were replaced with sanitary hoses of the type used for heads. May have worked, jury still out on this one. Newer boats seem to come from the factory with white sanitary hose. Older ones had clear plastic hose.

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From the log of Casey Brennan's Patriot:

April 5, 2010

2010 Annual Alerion Factory Rendezvous

On a rainy Saturday, on March 13th, over 150 Alerion Express customers consisting of both owners and prospective owners gathered at the Pearson Composites factory in Warren, Rhode Island to learn more about the beloved Alerion Express. Pearson Marine Group employees, various vendors and others taught a variety of informational seminars related to our boats at the event.

The day began with a welcome breakfast and informal reception allowing the opportunity to meet and talk directly with Pearson employees. One of the highlights was meeting and talking with Tiberio (Mr. Alerion as they call him), the lead who built many of our boats throughout the years. The first thing Tiberio wanted to know was my hull number. He immediately told me when she was built and that they remembered building the boat. Tiberio and his team were just as excited to meet the owners. The guys wanted to know where the boat had gone to live as well as what she had been named. They were also keenly interested in learning if I had experienced any problems and if I had any recommendations about either its design or construction. It felt as though each worker had a special pride in their craftsmanship and enjoyed that connection with its owner. One gentleman commented that it was their goal at Pearson to make every boat leaving the factory better in some way than any of its predecessors. Even if that was only a small improvement, it was nonetheless an improvement and over time each of these improvements paid off.

Following the breakfast-reception there was the opportunity to tour the factory. This was very interesting as our guide was one of the designers and fielded many interesting questions from the group. You could see that as a marine manufacturing group Pearson is constantly looking at improving their processes with an aim of removing as much as possible any potential for mistakes while increasing efficiencies and quality throughout each phase of construction. The remainder of the morning offered a variety of seminars and opportunities to learn more on topics such as: tuning your Alerion’s rig, or how to maximize its sail trim under various conditions. Yanmar’s seminar was on the care and maintenance of your engine. There additional seminars from Mastervolt on its new lithium Ion powered AE-33; Cay Electronics talked about the latest in marine electronics and one of the best seminars of the day was given by Pearson Marine Group employees on the “care and service of your Alerion.” You could also see a variety of projects that were currently underway. There was an older Alerion with a very early hull number who was in for a complete refurbishment. In addition to new Awlgrip on the topsides and complete refurbishment of her bright work along with upgrading the rig, the owner had new teak decking installed. In comparison a new Alerion 28 (hull-427) sat directly across from her. You had to look carefully to notice the differences between the boats and the teak decking looked awesome on the 28.

The CEO of Pearson Composites, Mr. Patrick Burke discussed Pearson’s commitment to weathering the recent economic downturn, as well as his confidence and excitement about the company’s future and continued growth. The highlight was the unveiling of the new Alerion Sport 33. The boat launches in June and already the first 3 hulls have sold! The AS-33 is impressive as it has tiller steering and manual winches much like our AE-28’s. It can be rigged for either a symmetrical or asymmetrical spinnaker and has the advantages of a larger boat while still retaining the classic good looks of our 28. Click here for a link to the AS-33 web page.

After all the earlier excitement, the factory served up a great lunch which was followed by more seminars and tours throughout the afternoon. The day ended with a wine and cheese reception which once again afforded time to meet and talk with Pearson Marine Group employees as well as fellow Alerion owners. As an Alerion owner at one time or another you may have had the opportunity to speak with Mark Dauplaise. Mark is the Customer Service Manager who I can tell you is just as committed to our customer satisfaction as you are to the care of your Alerion. There were many other owners, prospective owners and Pearson Marine Group employees I had the opportunity to meet and talk with throughout the day. Attending the Alerion Factory Rendezvous was not only informational but was well worth the time and effort. A great way to spend a Saturday talking and learning more about the boat we all love! Give some thought to keeping your calendar clear next year for sometime around the 2nd or 3rd weekend in March. Several of us from the Cheaspeake area might even wish to attend as a group.

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From the log of David Cochran's Ergo:

June 20, 2009

Improvement Ideas for Alerions

I have found that the storage in the Alerion Express 28 is inadequate and where it does exist, it is somewhat unusable. I made a shelf to fit under the chart table that increases the storage capabilities there and makes for storage that is not susceptible to getting wet from water from the bilge when heeling seriously — Photo #1. I next made a shelf under the sink as shown in Photo #2. Finally, I made a cover for the sink such that it is now used as a storage bin and has a useable surface on the top — Photo #3. Costs on these were essentially nothing as I used scrap materials.

Photo #1 Storage shelf installed under the chart table

Photo 2

Photo #2 Storage shelf installed under the sink.

Photo 3

Photo #3 Cover installed over the sink.

I have had trouble sailing wing and wing because the jib refuses to stay out. This is especially true in light air because of the tendency of the boom to center itself. I installed a ring on the track on the mast and bought an extendable whisker pole. These can be seen in Photos #5 and #6. The pole is a Forespar FOR406100 ADJ 6-12 with latch fittings on both ends. The total cost on this was about $200. I have just installed this and have not tested it.


Photo #5


Photo #6

I had a dodger made by Galesville Yacht Canvas located in West River Yacht Harbor. It comes in 6 pieces — top, center front, left and right front, and left and right side. I am adding a seventh piece that will extend the top aft. This is a great dodger that you can have any combination of the panels up. It really helps keep the sun and rain out.



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From the log of Jim Luke's Rampant:

June 21, 2008

Survey of Alerion Express 28 Hull Number 82

I have learned that boats, like people, can be both a blessing and a challenge. To enhance the blessing part, I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my maintenance and other routine boat ownership surprises and confusions, plus the findings of a recent survey. While the latter may be most applicable to older model Alerions, like mine, some of the survey findings would seem to apply across the vintage board.

I first sailed an Alerion Express in the early 90’s after the Annapolis Sailboat Show where it was introduced. In 1997, when the bulb keel and jib boom became available, I took the plunge, hoping a more stable platform than what I found in the original version would result. I haven’t been disappointed.

Aside from a few details and the sail drive, I’m told my boat is much like the Alerions produced today. It’s been professionally maintained. I dote on her relentlessly.

She has not always returned the favor. Here are a few issues that have gotten my attention over the years.

... not an auspicious beginning ...

It was not an auspicious beginning, that’s for sure. The first time I used the boat, the idea was to familiarize myself with the inboard motor. The sails were still in their bags. I was motoring out of Back Creek and attempted to change gears, when I heard what sounded like nuts and bolts falling down underneath the gear shift, which was now stuck in neutral. The connection between the gear shift and the transmission had come apart. Sculling with the rudder (think pushing water back rapidly) was all I could come up with at the time. Who knew? It worked amazingly well and got me back to the marina.

Perhaps a year later, on a windy day off Thomas Point Lighthouse, the boom came off the mast during a controlled jibe. Once again, there was the clatter of falling hardware, most of which ended up on the bottom of the Bay. Fortunately, the boom remained more or less in place and caused no additional damage. Even with diligence, Murphy’s Law (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong) still applies.

I was by myself in both of these instances. I bought the boat for singlehanded sailing and have not felt unsafe in using it that way. The mantra I repeat is think safety, watch the weather. So far, so good.

During my first several months of ownership, it was very difficult to get the mainsail up completely, with heavy winching needed for the final couple of feet. At the same time, the rope cover at the halyard splice was becoming increasingly frayed. It took a rigger up the mast to discover the screws attaching the anchor light were impacting the halyard splice as it came over the sheave. Shorter screws solved the problem.

Getting the mainsail hoisted continues to be a workout, an issue first mentioned in the early 1990s Practical Sailor review of the boat. To this end, I changed from full length battens to ¾ length, thinking batten bowing and the resulting tension on the mast might impede hoisting. Later, I added a Strong Track system, and, more recently, a 2:1 purchase from a block mounted on the masthead crane. I can now manually hoist the sail. The trade off, of course, is double the length of halyard tail.

This spring, I attended the Chesapeake Alerion rendezvous hosted by Annapolis Yacht Sales and Garth Hichens, the Alerion dealer for this area. Gale Browning, an experienced singlehanded long distance sailor and marine surveyor (Hartoft Marine Survey, Ltd., Annapolis, MD), gave a talk about boat maintenance as it relates to safety on the water. She had surveyed other Alerions, and, given my quality control questions and the age of the boat, I decided an independent survey might be a good idea. It was. I highly recommend it.

... an independent survey ...

The survey resulted in a seven page narrative and summary report. What follows is a brief synopsis of Gale’s findings and recommendations; the latter subcategorized by her as either essential, required or desirable.


Moisture was found at the right front of the cabin top, the right handrail being the suspected culprit. For good measure, both handrails were rebedded.

Moisture was also found in the deck extending radially from both chain plates. I had never considered the chain plates a problem. With water in the bilge and under the stuffing box after virtually every rain, the occasional drop or two below the chain plates, and only with torrential rain at that, seemed a non issue. However, during the survey, both sides of the bulkhead showed elevated moisture content, and there was probable separation of the Formica from the underlying plywood at the outer port side in an area measuring roughly 12”x36”. A core sample subsequently taken from that area revealed delamination.

The delamination was corrected by removing a section of Formica at the forward aspect of the port bulkhead and allowing the plywood to dry. A number of small holes were then drilled into the delaminated area. A thin epoxy was placed into the holes to percolate downwards between layers. New ¼” plywood was epoxied in place at the outer portion where more of the old plywood had to be removed, and the whole area was clamped until curing had taken place. Fresh Formica had been applied prior to clamping. The vertical gap between the old and new Formica was trimmed with a strip of teak. The repair looks great and seems solid.

Both chain plates were rebedded. Comment: the yard worker who did the job said he was surprised at the minimal amount of bedding compound present at the base of the port chain plate compared to the other side.

Pearson Composites (ex-TPI) indicates they have not heard of another bulkhead problem like mine and recommends chain plate rebedding at least every other year. I plan to do it annually.

Other ESSENTIAL survey recommendations:

Ensure water intake and other hoses that might rub against themselves or some part of the boat are protected from chafe.

The fuel vent line should have been attached to mounting blocks, not directly to the hull with self-tapping screws.

Replace cockpit drain hoses (exterior crazing found).

Inspect rigging aloft at least once a year, before any major voyage and after any suspected damage.


Install hardware to secure cockpit hatches in open position. Comment: a good idea, easily done.

Correct installation of vent line to above the level of the fuel tank.

Improve access to thru-hull fittings for scupper drains and bilge pump discharge hoses. Comment: Not easily done, given the aft cockpit panel.

Install in-line fuse or circuit breaker in positive battery cable and in positive wire for battery charger.

Install in-line fuse or circuit breaker in positive battery cable between battery and vapor tight switch.

Install chafe protection on wires exiting base of mast.

Install master breaker for AC electric system.

Install polarity indicator or carry portable polarity indicator to test polarity when connecting to shore power.


Through bolt handrails and toe rails.

Acquire foredeck hatch cover to protect Lexan against UV.

Service winches.

Label rope stops.

Remove excess oil from transmission.

Install raised loop with antisiphon valve to engine exhaust line in order to reduce potential for back siphoning.

Replace wing nut connectors on battery cables with lug type connectors.


1. Rebed the cockpit main sheet post base as a possible source of water penetration.

2. Reinstall and seal mast boot as a possible source of water penetration.

3. Shorten and reattach the lightning ground cables at the forward sides of the cabin bulkhead to the bottom chain plate lug nut, to make a straighter course from cable to ground. I understand lightning tends to go in a straight line and might jump the designated 90 degree turn as the cables were originally configured.

Obviously, this is a work in progress. A number of the suggested changes have already been implemented. Others are pending. If there are questions or comments, I can be reached at jllbeans@aol.com.

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From the log of Bob Spann's Resilient:

October 25, 2007

Cruising the Alerion Express 28

I regularly take my Alerion Express 28 for two to three day (one to two nights) cruises on the Chesapeake Bay. The Alerion Express 28 can be an excellent cruising boat for the solo sailor that is willing to “rough it” a little bit.

There is a certain joy in the peace, quiet and solitude of solo cruising. There is also the satisfaction that comes from applying some ingenuity to utilize a boat designed for day sailing as a cruiser.

The first problem that needs to be solved is the lack of a refrigerator. I have found that by putting one block of ice, plus one bag of ice cubes in the cooler, one can keep bottles of water cool for up to 48 hours. After 48 hours in summer heat one still has a cooler full of ice water that will keep food in water tight containers chilled.

Although there are one burner butane stoves on the market, I feel safer not cruising with butane or propane aboard. I like fresh fruits and vegetables (as well as genuine smoked Virginia ham) so not having a stove doesn't present any problems. When I first started solo cruising my AE 28, I asked the produce manager at my local grocery store what fruits and vegetables would keep well without refrigeration. He stated what I then realized was the obvious — buy the fruits and vegetables that are sold unrefrigerated. Carrots, cherry tomatoes, and green beans all taste great raw.


Resilient moored in Annapolis harbor

An autopilot is obviously a great aid to single handed cruising. It can be used to hold the boat into the wind when raising or lowering the main sail as well as for any other times that you need to be away from the tiller. The standard Alerion sail plan with the 95% self tacking jib does not perform well in light winds — a condition all too common on the Chesapeake Bay. I use a 155% Genoa (purchased for racing) when cruising. The 155 is still small enough that it can be tacked easily by a solo sailor. My autopilot can tack the boat through 100 degrees while I handle the genoa sheets.

... solo anchoring is fairly simple ...

Finally, the Alerion Express 28 is small enough that solo anchoring is fairly simple. Since the boat is light and doesn't have much free board, I have found that a Fortress anchor with only about 6 feet of chain and 150’ of nylon rope is sufficient. I store the anchor in a cockpit locker. When anchoring, I first cleat off the bitter end on the mid-ship cleat. Next I wrap the rode around the self-tailing winch on the cabin top at a point such that if I drop the anchor off the bow, the end of the chain would be at or below the bow chock After dropping the anchor off the bow, through the bow chock, I can remain at the bow playing out the rode or can return to the cockpit and can let out rode from the cockpit. That way, if there is a wind gust or shift after I have dropped the hook, I can still use the engine to maneuver the boat. Once I have set the anchor, I can cleat off the rode at the bow cleat as well.

This same system works in reverse when breaking anchor. Simply uncleat the rode from the bow cleat, but keep the rode running through the bow chock. Pull the rode into the cockpit until the chain is nearing the bow chock. Then go forward to pull in the chain and the anchor. This approach works better than casting and pulling in the anchor over the side. I used to set and retrieve the anchor over the side — until I was pulling the anchor up and got hit with a wind gust that was 45 degrees off the bow. Because the bow is higher than the stern, this caused the boat to spin and I found myself with the stern (not the bow) facing the anchor with a slackened rode. This created a real risk that the rode could get fouled in the keel, rudder, or prop — not good outcomes.

Many of the ideas contained I this log were given to me by fellow cruisers, so I am always interested in how other sailors have solved various problems while sailing and cruising.

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From the log of David Cochran's Ergo:

October 7, 2005

The "New" Boat

I recently bought a "new to me" boat. My "old" boat was an Alerion 19 Catboat. The "new" boat is an Alerion Express 28. Both were made in 1999, so "new" or even "old" do not apply but I will use them anyway. The catboat had been a great boat for me for 5 years but I felt that a move to a larger boat with more sails was appropriate.

After lusting and searching for several years I finally got serious when I found an AE 28 on the market in a port on the Chesapeake (Oxford, MD) that I would be sailing to anyway. I had set up an appointment with the broker and my sailing buddy, Bill, and I thought it looked great and would be the boat for me. I called my wife and told her that I had found the ideal boat. Her comments are unprintable. I persevered. Eventually we came to a financial arrangement - I had to find the money somewhere else. Loan companies can be a godsend but my insurance company offered the best deal. I made an offer and it was accepted.

After the survey and closing, I needed to get to the AE 28 and sail/motor it across and up the Bay to Galesville on the West River. I checked into taxis and friendships. I found it better to pay a friend - Roger. I got another friend, Paul, to agree to help moving the boat to my home port.

... the boat was not in the water ...

This AE 28 had had some cosmetic problems and was shipped back to the factory for refurbishing. This meant that it had been almost decommissioned - mast removed, etc. Therefore, it had to be re-commissioned or reassembled. The AE 28 has a self tacking Hoyt boom that is unfamiliar to most yards. I had called the yard and asked that the old name be removed and that it be put in the water on the day of my arrival. Upon arriving, the boat was not in the water and it still had the old name on it. The yard informed me that they never put a boat in the water until the owner arrived in case there was a mix-up in days or times. Additionally, the old name had "clear coat" over it and removal would be difficult. Both were minor problems.

My friends, Roger, Paul, and Bogey (Roger's dog/son) and I looked the AE 28 over and agreed - it is a beautiful boat - everything I wanted and more. Upon examining the setup and rigging, it became obvious that this boat had not been sailed since being re-commissioned. The outhaul on the jib on the Hoyt boom was rigged completely wrong. The mainsail cars had not been inserted into the track on the mast. Other lines seemed to be out of place.

My driver friend, Roger, thought we could set out that day (at about 3:00 PM) for my home port over 30 miles away. Somewhat fortunately, wiser heads prevailed. My crew, Paul, and I would re-rig everything we could identify, stay on the boat that night, and sail home the next morning. We got everything to what we thought was ship-shape and decided to go for a short sail to get more comfortable with the newness of this boat. We had a great sail in light air and discovered what a great boat I had just gotten.

The wind began to pick up ...

Next morning the broker picked us up to finalize a few things. We picked up food and water for the trip and went back to the boat to get a morning start. The forecast was for cloudy with winds of 15 knots gusting to 20. We motored out of the marina and hoisted the sails. The wind began to pick up and we were sailing at 5 to 6 knots. I had planned a course that would take us through Knapps Narrows but the wind was so good, and sailing was preferable to motoring, we decided to sail around Tilghman Island rather than through. The course set us on a close reach.

The wind continued to pick up and by the time we had rounded the tip of the island it was blowing seriously. We turned up the bay and I took over the helm. We were on a run with the sails wing and wing. The wind was blowing well over 20 knots and the seas were following at about 4 feet.

I thought I would let out the main sheet a little. Big mistake! One of the things we had not caught was the lack of stopper knots in the lines. The main sheet left my hand, went out through the block on the barney post, and out of the first block on the boom. The boom had been out to very near the shrouds so there wasnt much movement and no damage there. I grabbed the main sheet lengths where it went back and forth between the boom and the traveler and held on to the tiller. We were stable but in a bind. We agreed we would head up and that Paul would attempt to re-lead the main sheet. On the first attempt he got it wrong and on the second attempt it was less wrong - but workable. We put in a stopper knot.

It was a glorious ride.

We headed up the bay again wing and wing and were flying. We had following seas of 4 feet or more and we hit 11.8 knots on the GPS and well over 9 knots on the boat knotmeter. It was a glorious ride.

Our next challenge came when we needed to head up into West River on a close reach. The wind was really blowing - 30 to 35 knots. We were healed over seriously but sailing steadily. The reefing line had not been rigged and we did not have ties even if we did reef. We were fearful that the small engine would not hold us into the wind when we needed to drop the sails and that we couldnt keep the sail in the boat. All of that proved to be unfounded. The final challenge was to put my new boat into a slip with a 30 knot tail wind. My new boat now has a nice ding on the bow.

All in all, it was a great trip. It certainly was a learning experience. My advice for those who want to live on the edge and flirt with danger - go to sea without preparation.


Read the manual in advance and make a list of things to do and check. Give yourself more time than you think you will need to get everything ready to sail.

Very thoroughly check out the rigging. Stopper knots are critical as is the ability to reef.

Take a trial sail going nowhere with no timetable.

Get the boat of your dreams. Now.

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