Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Manna - we have a Spinnaker

Thanks to Carl, we have a Spinnaker

About 10 years ago, we purchased a used Spinnaker from Second Wind Sails in Fort Lauderdale, it was not quite the right size for our 25' boat back then, but we made it work. It was an absolute delight to fly that huge sail even if it was old and stained. 

Last month, I was scanning facebook and saw a post from Carl, a HISC club member that previously owned a Catalina 36 and sailed it very successfully in club races as well as South Florida events like The Columbus Day Regatta, that boat has changed hands and Carl now has a Hunter 24 that he's kitting out to race. 

Carl had a Spinnaker taking up space at home and in that post he asked if anyone wanted it. WooHoo! I live about 5 minutes from Carl's house. On my way! 

Now we have this 'used used' Spinnaker that can be modified to fly on Eximius. Stoked!

Dragging (it's not heavy, just very big!) the sail out into our front yard and laying it out, I'm in awe. My neighbor saw what I was doing and offered to help. So we staked it out to measure and inspect.

The Sail measures 48' from Head to Foot and 27' wide at it's widest point. It's a Symmetrical Spinnaker in Red White & Blue and I only found 5 patches, largest about 4" square in matching material so it's actually in pretty good shape. It can probably benefit from a cleaning, and it needs to be trimmed down a bit to fit Eximius.

Down at the boat, to measure up and check out what we need to fly this beauty, I measured from the Spinnaker Block (just above the top of the Forestay) down to the lifelines - 42' So that's my starting point.

My intention was to cut the spinnaker and reshape it just a little to convert it into an Asymmetrical.

I started by cutting out 48" in length from the seam of the vertical triangles to the horizontal panels. That would shorten the sail from 45' to 41'
Next I cut from the Port Leach (Red) down 24" to the Starboard Leach (Green) that would shorten the Starboard Leach from 41' down to 39' effectively raising the Starboard Clew. The result would be that the Clew would be at the end of the Green leach tape and the Tack would be at the end of the Red leach tape and the belly of the sail would be moved slightly to the Luff of the sail (Red Leach tape)

Then time to sew. I used some of the removed material to practice sewing the very light material, it's not like sewing Sunbrella and I quickly realized that my existing setup would not work. Spoke with the folks at Sailrite and they prompted me to review the Thread, Tensions, and Needle type & size. Duh! I should have read the manual about that and it's on the first few pages.

I ordered some new needles and basting tape specifically designed for Sail materials and put the project on hold until the supplies arrived.

With the new #14 needles, I ran a few more tests. Had another issue, the machine was skipping stitches. I spent a couple of hours reading, measuring rotation angles and needle positions to see what was wrong. Swapped out the needle for the original and all was well. Dang. Replaced the new needle and still skipping. Was it due to the rotation of the needle? Out with my trusty pliers and screwdriver, eased the screw holding the needle and adjusted the needle rotation (groove has to be facing the open end of the machine) and snap - No, I didn't break the needle, but I did feel it snap up about an 1/8" of an inch. Turns out that when I was measuring the needle position from the Gib Hook, I was looking at the wrong hook! A quick test sew and all was good.

Onto the main task, sew that long 27' seam and make the sail whole again. During my measurements of the sail and the alterations, I had figured that the top edge of the lower part of the sail was within 1" of the bottom edge of the top of the sail, that would require a very small dart in the fabric and I wanted that to be in the middle rather than at the edges. As it turned out, the dart width at the seam was only 1/8", Sweet!

Basting the very flimsy material was a trick needing 3 hands. I hung the real of basting tape from a hook above my work desk, that made taping one edge a whole lot easier. With the tape applied to one edge, I was able to work my way along the material from the leach towards the center and use the tape to hold the two edges together.

It took a couple of hours to complete the sewing, but I'm really pleased with how it worked out.

Next it was time to clean the sail, it's not going in the Washing Machine on gentle cycle - that's Peggy's rule!

I washed out the garbage can first then put the sail in and mixed up some OxyClean with a couple of gallons of water and added that to the can with then filling the can with the hose.

Lots of manipulation, just moved the sail around with my hands making sure the entire sail was getting wet.

However, the sail kept floating to the top because of air trapped in the folds. Partially filling a bucket, I used it as a weight to keep the sail under water. It still would float, so I just kept dunking the top down.

I didn't think the sail was particularly dirty, but it's surprising how much dirt came off.

After a half hour, I lifted the sail out of the can into another clean can and then ditched the water. Rinsed the sail in the 2nd can and repeated several times. Of course, it started raining! What to do with a 40'x27' sopping wet sail? Peggy nixed the idea of putting it in the dryer on air dry. So I took the sail, in the can, back to our Patio and draped it with the head of the sail on a hook up high and the foot of the sail at the other end of the patio.

Come morning with a warming Sun, I spread the sail out to air dry it. I spent nearly 2 hours moving the sail around until it was dry all over. It would have been less but for a brief strong wind blowing some of the sail into the pool. Luckily we hadn't added any chlorine recently. Once dry I folded the sail and took it indoors. There I spread it out, partially, on the floor of our spare bedroom (funny, that's where Carl had been keeping the sail at his home!) and I re-positioned the sail several times to give it a air out.

The sail is ready to use. Next - Make a sail sock & snuffer, and set up the rigging. Then wait for a light air day to see the sail in all it's glory - after all, the sail did come from Glory Daze!

Thanks Carl & Suze, will send you some pics as soon as we can get them.

Meanwhile, I'm off to JoAnnes to get the material to make the Sock & Snuffer.

See you on the Water.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

GPS taking a break

GPS Shutting down with Low Engine RPM

This is an intermittent issue that we noticed a few times, it's not a critical issue. The GPS will shut down sometimes when we change gear. The process is: Drop the engine RPM to idle, shift to Neutral, Shift into the other gear, throttle up smoothly. It's taken a while to figure out when the GPS wigs out because we're normally focused on other things when we have to change gear, such as holding for a bridge to open, approaching a dock, or shifting astern in order to slow down because some clown has stopped ahead of us for no apparent reason. Whatever, we finally nailed it down to happening when we shift gears.

Intermittent snags are a pain. I had plenty of experience dealing with that type of thing when servicing Navy Helicopters during my Navy days, but that was 29 years ago. I know the drill, try to repeat the fault several times in order to isolate the actions or events that cause the issue. It could be due to an electrical management problem, but also could be an intermittent wiring issue, perhaps a faulty connection that is suffering vibration when the engine changes down below idle when the lever is moved to select a gear. Hopefully we'll find out which it is this week. There's plenty to do on the boat, so we'll take a break and see what we can find.

Here's what the wiring under the cockpit deck looks like from the back of the Aft Berth uggggg!

As I was moving the wires around to try and figure out what's what, a black wire fell out of the terminal block without any effort. Tracing that wire to it's destination showed that it's the GPS Ground Wire! Bingo!

The terminal block connections were awful, so I undid them and stripped the wires back to ensure I'm not dealing with any damaged wires from the previous screw down point of contact.

After re-working the terminal block connections, removing dead end wires (there seems to too many of them on our boat, I remove them when ever I get the chance).

Neatly ran the wires and secured them with new tie wraps but leaving the fuse holders free just in case we ever need to access the fuses.

All neat and tidy, but also secured so that there's no chance any of the electrical cables can move and get caught up on the steering cables (those wheels in this pic) Time to test it all and button it up.

GPS started up and showed 13.6v, Echo Depth sounder is working, Radar - Working, AIS - Working, Wind Instrument display - working, Auto Pilot - Working - Looking good. Button it back up and do some cleaning of the aft berth while I'm in there.

We won't know till the next time out if we have cured the problem, but if I were the betting type, then I would put money on it. (not too much!)

See you on the water.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Radar Troubles

Radar not working

We're preparing for some night sailing this winter and the Admiral really would like to get used to using the Radar. Luckily, I serviced helicopter Radar systems during my 25yr Navy Career and feel very comfortable using and teaching the concepts and practicalities of a Radar System.

But, the Radar has to work - right! It seems that the Radar system in Eximius suffered during the visit by Hurricane Irma. The Radar systems that I serviced in the Navy had multiple components, but that was 30 years ago. Today the Radar consists of a Radome that has all of the Radar equipment contained in a single unit with an output to our Chart Plotter which also controls the functions of the Radar.

The Radar System has it's own power supply via a Circuit breaker on the main Electrical Control Panel but it's operation is managed via the GPS Map 741sx (our Garmin Chart plotter). We're getting Low voltage warnings on the GPS whenever the Radar is powered up and we're not getting the control options - so there's something not working (or was we said in the Navy - It's US - UnServiceable)

So time to do some fault finding.
  • Check that the circuit breaker is Serviceable
  • ..Use Multi Meter to check the Power on the output side of the Circuit Breaker - 13.8 Volts.
  • ..Power is ok at the breaker.
  • Check the power at the Radome
  • .. detach the Radome from the mounting plate
  • .. Disconnect the power cable from the Radome
  • .. Use Multi Meter to check the voltage at the cable end - 13.6 volts
  • .. Power is ok, 0.2v voltage drop, that's pretty good for a 48' cable
  • Check the supply wire resistance (voltage drop will increase when the current flow increases)
  • .. +ve Wire - 0Ω
  • .. -ve Wire - Wow! off the scale!
Contacted Garmin Tech support and they concur - supply cable looks very suspect.

I decided to order a replacement cable and test it before routing the wires inside the boat.

Good news - Garmin will allow me to return the cables within 30 days if they don't solve the issue (which means that we'll have to ship the Radome to Garmin for repair 😖 )

So, armed with that good news, I also ordered a replacement for the Cat 5 Cable that runs from the Radome to the Chart Plotter as both cables run together from the Radome, outside the Radome Mounting pole and then into the deck, currently via a nasty blob of Silicone caulk which will have to go.

New cables should arrive in 2 days.

New Cables Arrived

Garmin came through! The new cables arrived via UPS yesterday (Wednesday), so, today we headed down to the boat to test the Radar using the new Cables.

I decided to test using the old Cat 5 Cable but the new Power cable as it was the high resistance in the power cable that caused me to get the new cables.

Disconnected the old Radar Power +ve cable from the Circuit Breaker.
Connected the new Power cable +ve to the Circuit breaker
Connected the new Power cable -ve to the ground bus bar inside the Electrical panel.
With the Radar Circuit breaker turned off, we flashed up the Chart Plotter (Garmin 741xs) and confirmed that the Radar did not show up in the list of System Devices - it did not.
Turned the Radar Circuit breaker on, and we could immediately hear the Radome making noise, that was a good sign. But nothing on the Chart Plotter. I was about to check the connections when the noise from the Radome dropped significantly. At that point, the System devices showed the Radar. Getting somewhere.

To test the Radar, we accessed the Chartplotter home screen and selected Radar - It now shows that it's ready to Transmit with the 'Transmit Radar' option. Selecting that option we could hear the Radar spin up and the display indicates that it is 'Spinning Up' Looking good.

After a few moments, perhaps a minute, we navigated to the Home Page and Selected Radar - it now shows 'Radar to Standby' which indicates that it's currently transmitting, we selected 'Cruising' mode and the screen quickly displayed a typical radar screen, we changed the range to 1/4mile and could clearly see the echos from targets along the sides of the canal ahead and astern of us. WoooHooo! 

View of the Radome from astern

There're indicators on the Radome that provide orientation, the two small ones in the top right hand side of the pic show the Aft Center of the Radome

The Radome is mounted atop of a Steel tube (not Stainless as can be seen from the rusty surfaces) with a Steel plate on top. 
The lower end of the tube passes through a hole in the deck outside of the cockpit and then down, inside the aft locker to a plate that is screwed to the hull. I know, WTF! Why didn't the installer use Stainless Steel and why didn't they make it a deck stepped tube, and why didn't they run the power and Cat 5 cables inside the tube?

Danged if I know, but I'm looking into what it would cost to have a new Radar Support Tube, plate and lower flange manufactured. If the cost is reasonable, I'll have it made and re-work the entire Radar Mounting system.
The pic also shows the Eye bolt in place of one of the securing screws, attached to that eye bolt with a shackle is our Outboard Engine hoist block. Also on the underside is an Aluminum angle bar that can be used for an Antenna, so I'll be hooking one up to that for our SSB Receiver. That should improve SSB reception.

Having confirmed that the Power cable was the problem, I started the change out process. Another install screw up. The original installers had run the 48' of power cable wire down through a hole in the deck, along with the Cat 5 Cable, then both were coiled up and strapped to existing tie wraps in the aft locker just ahead of the Aft Water tank. Then they had crimped a pair of 16awg wires to the ends of the power cable and run those to the main electrical panel - via two different routes. Duh! The 48' of cable is probably about 15' to 20' too long! So they could have just run the power cable to the electrical panel and cut off the excess - that would reduce the voltage drop along the length of the wires and eliminate at least two cable crimp joints! Guess what I'm doing? - Yep, run the new line to the electrical panel and cut it short before connecting it to the Circuit Breaker and Ground bus bar.

I had to go to West Marine to pick up a Blue Sea Cable Clamp as I don't want to have another lump of silicone caulking where the cables pass through the deck. If I do replace the Radome Mount, I'll run the wires through the inside and repair the deck where there are currently two holes, one for the tube and the other for the wires.

At least I'll get it back to fully working status tomorrow - Friday.

Might even get out for a sail as we had hoped.

See you on the water.


Close the head curtains!

Close the head window curtains

Ok, so they're not 'Windows' they're 'Ports' and happen to be on the Port side, but not above a PortaPotti - They're real Head Curtains.

While waiting for project supplies to arrive, I made the final curtains for the Head.

The previous curtains fell apart in the laundry with all of the other white linen curtains from the main cabin. 

These are made from the Lobster fabric (JoAnnes) that was used for the temporary curtains in the main cabin. These turned out so well that I'll be making matching curtains for the rest of the boat.

Admiral Peggy said they were cute. Awwwww 😀

See you on the water.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

1st Haul Out

1st Haul Out 

Ok, not the first, that happened when we had the boat hauled for the Survey when we purchased the boat (then 'Chris Deke', now 'Eximius') in May 2015.

The Plan

Haul the boat at Playboy Marina in Dania, Paint the bottom, clean & polish the deck and hull, install the Catalina Direct Rudder Bearing upgrade, install a new Thru Hull for the Air Conditioning.

Here's a link to my working spreadsheet, it will change as the project progresses.

Bottom Paint

From the posts on the C34 forum, it should take about 1.5 gallons of bottom paint, that's at $311+ per gallon. We're going to apply 2 coats and they need 3-6 hours between coats. All cleaning above the bottom paint has to be complete before applying 1st coat in order to ensure we don't contaminate it before applying coat #2. And the 2nd coat needs 16 hours drying time before launch. So the timing of practically everything has to be molded around the bottom paint job.

Rudder bearing upgrade

The rudder has a small amount of wobble that can be felt by trying to move the lower edge of the rudder (when the boat is out of the water). Wobble can get worse and ultimately lead to rudder failure. So we're installing the Catalina Direct Rudder Bearing kit. Basically we inject a mixture of epoxy resin between the rudder post, which is part of the rudder, and the rudder post tube which is glassed into the hull beneath the helm seat. The challenge here is to get the rudder out. It has probably never been dropped in the last 30 years, the Steel Bolts in the Aluminum steering quadrant (which is really a two part circular plate.) are almost certainly seized. My solution is to apply PB Blaster every few days for several weeks prior to hauling the boat and then to have an impact screw gun available. 
The biggest issue here will be getting the boat reblocked when the rudder is ready to be dropped and again when it's ready to be reinstalled.

If this cannot be done during this haul out, it can wait.

Thru Hull for Air Conditioning Raw Water

The AC system is cooled using Raw Water. Currently, the supply hose is about 20 feet long and reaches from the Thru Hull used for the Shower Sump and Head Raw Water (flushing). So there are currently 3 hoses attached to that Thru Hull. The AC pump (located in the V-Berth by the AC unit) has a long way to suck water, so my plan is to install a new Thru Hull in the V-Berth which will reduce the supply hose length to about 3' or less. The install will include a barbed T fitting that will have a closed cap to allow clean-out of the Thru Hull with a rod from inside while the boat is in the water.
In preparation for this project, I have made a Fiberglass backing plate with replaceable studs as shown on Rod's website

This project should take less than an hour on the hard as most of the prep will have been done before getting to the boat yard and having her hauled and placed in stands on the hard.

So, that's the plan. My neighbor has offered to assist with the work for a couple of days and I'm hoping to get it all done in 4 days, but have budgeted for 7 days, at over $100 per day, I have an incentive to work my butt off!

Target date to get started is 2nd week of December, but is subject to yard availability, they need about 4 weeks advance notice. So I need to book around November 27th. Time to get those ducks in a row.

And we're planning on a few sailing trips before then. Wooohooooo!

See you on the water.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Just Clean the Windows

Grotty Windows

The windows (they don't open) by the Galley & Aft Berth (Stbd Side) and above the Nav Table and the Head (Port Side) are really grotty. I have cleaned them several times and we routinely rinse them down while rinsing the Deck. We cannot see out of them and they are normally covered with blue snap on curtains.
Stbd Side Galley Window - Before
I took this pic of the Stbd side Galley window with the curtain removed.

Stbd Side Galley Window - After
Here's the same side but the forward of the two windows after cleaning.

I used my Makita Buffer & Finesse It II polishing compound.

Initially just applied the polish to the buffer pad and wiped it over the outside window surface. Then progressively ramped up the buffer speed to #4. Finally just wiped it down with a micro fiber cloth to remove any spot spray.

Stbd Side Cabin Windows - After
Outside view of the Stbd side windows after polishing.

There are a few craze cracks in them both, so they'll have to be replaced soon, at that time I'll make a set of window covers to keep the Sun off of them. Probably use snap fasteners that are secured in place where the existing window screws.

Very pleased with the results.

See you on the Water (no pun intended 😏)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Oh for some fresh air

Time to service the Dorades

Eximius has 2 Dorades with Silicone Vents (those white vent Cowls in the pic) They look pretty nasty, and they do not function. There is a handle on the inside of the boat beneath each cowl that is used to open or close the vent. 

The design of the Dorades is meant to keep out water, but the closure facilitates control of the ventilation. One is stuck wide open and the other is stuck fully closed.
The Cowls are Silicone but have been (badly) painted in the past and look awful. Time for a Makeover.

Here are the two vent covers (they would be visible if you could see down the vent cowl). I spent 10 minutes cleaning up the one on the right, compared to the condition prior to cleaning (the one on the left) it looks like this will work out well.

Same idea, this is the screen plate that is attached to the boat under the cowl vent, the one on the right has been cleaned and the screen removed, it looked pretty much like the one on the left.

I replaced the wire bug screen using aluminum screen material from Lowes Home Improvement store. 

Getting the center nut off was a problem, 48 hours of PB Blaster applications did nothing to help, so I used my Dremel to cut a slot in the backside of the nut and they came out easy.

Here they are, threads cleaned up, new wire screen (I have a 84" x 36" roll, most of it left over!) and all polished up. They look good.
If I have to replace the screen wire, I have enough for repairs for the next couple of lifetimes.

Last part of the valve covers, I used my thread cutting kit to clean the bolt threads that are on the backside of the covers. 

Very pleased with how these turned out.

The Cowls were another story. The surface has been painted, but it looks like the paint was applied before a thorough cleaning, I had to sand them down, soak them in chemical cleaner, douse them in Acetone and smooth out the surfaces with Magic Eraser. Even then, I'm not overly pleased, however, they are 30 year old vents.

Decision made: Paint them Black on the outside and Red on the inside of the Port Vent and Green on the inside of the Starboard vent.

3 Cans of Krylon from Wally World, Red, Green & Black.

Here's the Before and After the initial painting.

I spent a couple of hours cleaning the one on the right then 5 coats of Krylon - A couple more after 48 hours cure time.

Meanwhile, I'll get to work on the other one.

Not bad progress so far.
Plan is to complete the Furler Repair on Wednesday and install the new Tank Monitoring system. Dorade vents should be complete and ready to install Saturday.

Well that took longer than planned due to the 48 hour wait period between coats. But they are finally ready to reinstall. Of course, the zip lock bag that I put all of the screws in is nowhere to be found. Good news is that Lowes had packs of 40 of both types of screws, so I'll have a bunch of screws left over, what's new about that situation?

Finished the install.
I used Butyl Tape to seal the surfaces between the vent 'valve' and the Fiberglass mounting surface and between the Cowl lower part (fixed) and the mounting surface.

Countersank the screw holes in the mounting surface to improve the water seal.

The valve knob (accessible from inside the cabin beneath the vent hole) is set using Loctite.

All cleaned up and looking good

The install took about 30 minutes work on each side, most of that was cleaning up the mounting surface, then applying a bead of Butyl tape around the edge of the Opening Valve as well as filling the holes with tape. They look as though they have been filled with resin and re-drilled previously.  I used a sharp blade to remove the silicone caulk that was used on an earlier repair, most of it had shrunk or peeled, it was the residue that took the effort to remove.

Very pleased with the results. Should last a good while now.

That's the last project before we head out for the weekend, plan is to motor down the river, head out for a sail on Friday up to Hillsboro Inlet then up the ditch to Lake Boca. Sunday we'll return the same way. Weather looks good for the whole weekend.

See you on the water!


Now that the vents have been replaced, I won't be able to just grab some paper towel.

Nice pic Peggy! 😉


Accolades from the Admiral - Nice work! But the pics don't show the installed vents very well.

So here you go, forgive the water marks, we had just rinsed off the deck.

Port Side (Red Interior)

Starboard Side (Green interior)