Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Planning on Celebrating New Year

Looks like we'll have another go at putting the new sails up this weekend.

Plan is to take the boat out on New years Day and anchor somewhere overnight.

I'm a little grumpy while writing this, Just received news about the latest Rich Guys Law being introduced in the Florida House. House Bill 1051

There was a bill that ran it's course this past year which was disguised as a Vessel Anchoring Safety Bill, but it had absolutely nothing to do with Safety, it's sole purpose was to prevent boats anchoring nearby the homes adjacent to the Florida waterways because it spoiled their view!

This new Bill, House Bill 1051, does not even try to disguise itself, there is no mention of safety, it's plain and simply the thin edge of a wedge that would allow future anchoring restrictions.

Like many sail boat owners, we take our boats out to the ocean, but departure from the inland waterways has to be timed within a good weather window. Nobody would suggest that we head out to sea without giving consideration to the conditions out there. But when someone brings their boat from outside of Florida, they have the imperative to head inland if the conditions outside turn nasty. In both cases, being able to anchor overnight is a vital option. It not only saves lives, but it saves tax payer monies too by reducing the number of off shore emergencies when sailors can shelter overnight, one or more nights, to avoid putting them selves and others at risk.

Members of the boating community are well aware of the efforts by the 1%'s to claim ownership of the waterways adjacent to their property. That public ownership is protected by State Law, and so these few home owners are trying to change the law, or add new laws that override the existing law.

The worst part is that it's our Politicians, the people we vote into office, that are enabling these few, most likely in order to gain political fund raising support (there's a word for it). Those politicians seem to have forgotten who voted them into office and why!

This time around the bill is being sponsored by Representative Matt Caldwell,

Capitol Office 

218 House Office Building 
402 South Monroe Street 
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300 
Phone: (850) 717-5079

District Office 
Building A 
15191 Homestead Road 
Lehigh Acres, FL 33971-9749 
Phone: (239) 694-0161

Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010, reelected subsequently

So he's probably due a job change!

If you want to Email Representative Matt Caldwell, here's the link to his Email Form

I expect that we'll be hearing a lot more from Mr. Caldwell
...and why he sponsored Florida House Bill HB 1051

See you out on the water (but perhaps not anchored in Florida)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Day Mini Cruise with Spruce Goose

One of our best recent Christmas' thanks to Mike & Joyce aboard Spruce Goose!

We didn't rush down to the boat, took out time. Once all the gear (mostly food & drink) was aboard, I opened all of the sea cocks and checked the engine oil. All was ok, so Peggy got the engine running - We've finally decided on a name for the engine, I wanted something distinctive, but also with a wry humorous twang. So we have named the engine 'Geeves', seems appropriate as we depend upon Geeves quite a bit, and he has not let us down.

Weather didn't support getting to actually sail, but we arranged with Spruce Goose to meet them at Sunrise Bay on Christmas Day.

Mike & Joyce arrived before us as we were delayed having to wait for the opening of the Los Olas Blvd Bridge, it opens on the 15 & 45 minutes if requested. The Bridge Tender was helpful and offered to open for us, but I explained we would be at least 10 minutes to the bridge and requested the next opening.

Once through the Los Olas brige, we steamed up the Intracoastal to the Sunrise Bridge which is just south of Sunrise Bay, home of the Coral Ridge Yacht Club. The current was pretty hard outbound at Sunrise Bridge. Geeves accepted the request for more power so we had no difficulty getting past the bridge despie the current.

Mike & Joyce had already anchored Spruce Goose, and they took these pics as we arrived.

Heading up the Intracoastal from Sunrise Blvd Bridge

Navigating to the North of the shallow area of Sunrise Bay

Good shot of our new Doyle Cradle Cover for the Mainsail

Fender out, ready lined up for the raft up.

Getting close, lines in hand, coming along side.

Once we were securely rafted up and lines tied with Chafe Protectors (we learnt not to forget them on out last trip out), we relaxed, it's so good to get out on the water, even when it's just a local trip.

We shared dinner that night, between us, we did a great job of making dinner healthy and hearty! Some wine, Capt Morgan Black Rum and don't forget those awesome, wish I were allowed to eat more) brownies from Joyce's neighbor.

After sunset and watching the Christmas moon rise up from over the eastern edge of the Intracoastal canal, we shared stories, as sailors do! 

Bunks were calling so we all finally gave up and turned in.

Overnight, the wind picked up for a short bit, but our boats held well on the Gooses Anchor. Not unusally, both Mike & I stuck our heads out of the cabin to check things several times overnight, but all was well. Eximius' ports were all open, so the cabin and v-berth were cool. 

Breakfast in the morning, I made too many oats, but Joyce took care of the left overs. That early morning coffee when on the boat is always something special. 

Mike was gracious to come aboard and provide support as I finished the installation of the new Garmin AIS, we just had to connect it to the 12v system. Other than being awkward to get our mits inside the electrical space to make the connections, it was pretty straight forward. Once connected I turned on the Nav Instruments, GPS and the new AIS. by the time I got up to the helm, the system was up and running and already chirping about an AIS target nearby. WooooHoooo! Thanks Mike (I did my little happy dance too.)

Mike & Joyce had plans, so they headed back to the north while we dropped our anchor in their wake.

During the day I fixed the Jib sail furler by re-routing the furling line and moving one block. Easy. I also, finally, finished up the wiring on the pedestal guard. I had secured the wires to the new Nav Platform at the helm station using temporary wire ties. I had not wanted to put the final ties in place until the pedestal guard had been cleaned up. It had plenty of residue from the electrical tape that had held the original wires in place when we purchased Eximius. I was able to scrub the residue off with a plastic scrubber, then secure the wires in place with evenly spaced black wire ties. Looks much neater.

In the 'get things done mode' I also put the new 1st Mainsail reefing lines in place, for now they can only be set by going up on the cabin top, but I plan to eventually lead the controls aft to the cockpit so that there is no need to go forwards in order to reef to let out a reef.

As dusk fell, several boats stopped to anchor for a while before heading south past the Sunrise  Blvd Bridge, one, from Canada, stayed overnight.

Around 3am it started to rain, so I was up closing the ports and  taking the cockpit cushions out of the rain.

O'Seven thirty and we were up making breakfast. Coffee, Oats with Walnuts, and cream cheese on whole grain bread. Mmmmmmm!

Tides dictated that we leave around 10am, so we weighed anchor around 09:45 and got inline to go under the bridge. This was our first real use of the new AIS, and I'm impressed! Both the huge boat in front of us and the smaller fishing boat behind us had AIS transmitters on board. Oddly enough, the smaller boat had taken the trouble to fill in all of the blanks in the AIS data setup, but the huge boat in front of us (it was towing a boat almost our size as a dink) had not setup the AIS properly. I wonder if they know?

We easily made it down to Los Olas Blvd bridge, the current was in our favor and we easily motored at nearly 7knots GPS between the bridges.

On the way back to the slip from the Intracoastal, we stopped at Sailboat Bend (that's where Huzinga spends his money on real estate) for a pump out. The city guys were quick to respond to our request and within 30 mins we were pumped out and casting off just as 7th Avenue Bridge was opening. Perfect!

Peggy did a great job of bringing us alongside our slip and we, now routinely, set too getting our gear ready for the trip home.

Boat Secure, Truck loaded, heading home from a GREAT Weekend!

Thanks Joyce & Mike! 

See you on the Water.

Getting AIS

After months of research and checking out virtually every option for AIS, I found a great deal on line for an AIS Receiver, so I hit the order button and it's due Tomorrow!

It's an easy install, so I should be able to get it setup into our on board network in less than an hour.

Peggy has been interested in having AIS on board for quite a while, this unit will integrate with the rest of our Garmin System via the NMEA 2000 network.

As we plan on heading up the coast sometime, this will help identify other vessels in the area, certainly ones big enough that we need to be aware of where they are located and what they are doing.

I plan on installing it inside the Nav Station Radio Compartment,

  • Disconnect the VHF Antenna Coaxial Cable from the VHF Radio.
  • Connect from the VHF Radio to the AIS via the new interconnect cable.
  • VHF Antenna Coaxial Cable to the AIS.
  • Connect a new NMEA T connector in the NMEA 2000 Backbone which is behind the electrical panel.
  • Connect the Drop Cable from the T to the AIS unit. 
  • Connect the power cable from the AIS to the a spare circuit breaker, 
  • Label the Circuit Breaker 'AUX - AIS', and it should be ready to go.

Using the built in Antenna Splitter makes it easy to install and it will be using the VHF antenna that's at the Mast Head. Saves having to install a 2nd VHF antenna and running cable.

Once installed, we will be able to turn it on when required, not a lot of point having it running when we're heading down the New River, but it'll give us a lot of info about the sea traffic in Port Everglades, or the Port of Miami, and when we're heading to the Bahamas - you might be surprised at the number of ships that head from Port Everglades to the Bahamas and to South America or the Caribbean.

See you on the Water.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Getting it up

The new Topping lift that I purchased a few months ago in anticipation of my next mast climb was installed this week, but only to break when under strain! Grrrr.

I ordered a new topping lift wire, it goes from the mast head to the aft end of the boom and holds the boom up when the sail is stowed. So today, I climbed the mast with the safety assistance of the neighbor (Don) that lives opposite where we keep the boat.

Climbing he mast is a process! This time, I used the bosuns chair that I found on the boat and a home made harness and some rock climbing techniques to get up the mast.

Don acted as a safety while I was climbing the Main Halyard using a pair of Prusik knots for my foot harness and bosun's chair harness, with a 1st safety Prusik knot secured to the bosuns chair and the running safety line being maintained by Don. It's seemed to take a while to climb the mast, probably 15 to 20 minutes, but I was able to get within reaching distance of the mast head and install the new topping lift.

Once the wire was installed at the masthead, it was time to descend. It was actually easier than I expected, just had to figure out the maximum I could descend each transition from sitting with my weight in the bosuns chair to standing in the foot harness.

Safely back on deck, I thanked Don, just having him there helped. Now it was time to connect the topping lift wire to the block and tackle on the back of the boom. Arrrrgh! The wire was too long! The riggers had made it 42 feet instead of the prescribed 38 feet!

To get it adjusted would require that I climb the mast again to disconnect it from the mast head and again to put it back! It's not easy climbing the mast, not a bid deal, but it takes a lot of effort to lift my 180lbs 46+ feet up the mast.

After discussing it with the rigger, I purchased a swage tool and swage ferrules with the intent of shortening the wire without having to climb the mast again.

After an hours work, I finally completed the task, the wire was now 4' shorter and the block and tackle on the boom fit great! Phew!

With the boom topping lift installed, cross another thing off the ToDo list in preparation for our sail on Christmas day. - Of course the weather has some say on that, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

See you on the water.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas day cruise

Looks like we might be taking Eximius out on Christmas Day - if the weather is nice!

This will be our first time out with the new sails! I wonder if anyone else will be nearby?

We'll probably head out of Port Everglades, head up/down the coast for a while, at least 3 miles out ;) Will take our good camera just in case we get to see any other sailboats in the area and post their pics.

To Do's before then include Oil Change, New Topping lift (the 'new' wire slipped out of it's eye at the crimp!)

High Tide at Bahia Mar is around 07:30, so we should have no problems getting out of the slip on the New River in the morning.

There are no reported closures of the bridges on the New River - There should be tenders on duty, we'll have to make sure to thank them for opening on Christmas day!

So, that means we should be able to get to the Ocean around 10am ish (no rush), Wind looks good too, (but we're 8 days out, might change :)

Low tide (Spring!) is around 13:30, so we'll have to stay away from the slip till around 15:30. But we might hang out at Lake Sylvia or Sunrise Bay overnight.

New River to the Ocean

Sunday, December 13, 2015

New Rags

New Rags (Getting a New Set of Sails)

We knew this was in our future, it's time to replace the Sails on Eximius. 

Our choice was to go local, not the cheapest but there's a lot to be said for giving business to local companies. We chose Super Sailmakers in Fort Lauderdale. Their sail loft is only 20 minutes away from the slip where we keep Eximius and the rep lives even closer.

One choice we made was to go with a loose footed mainsail. Instead of the foot of the sail being attached to the length of the boom and at each end, a loose footed sail is only attached to the boom at the front of the sail (the Tack) and the back of the sail (the Clew), this allows the sail to take a natural shape along it's foot. But the Clew is secured to the boom by the Out Haul, and that piece of rigging is 27  years old! Might need to replace it.

Good decision! While inspecting the out haul rigging I noticed a crack in the fitting that connects the boom to the mast (the Gooseneck) so I ended up taking the boom off the boat and replacing the end fittings, 
Here are the new end fittings (top is the back end bottom is the front end)

Nice new castings and no cracks in the steel.

This is the old front end fitting. Yuk!

It was a challenge to get the end caps off. I drilled out the screw heads but could not drill out the screw shaft. In the end, I just punched them through with a nail punch. They were self tapping screws into pre-drilled casting holes.

There's a lot of surface corrosion, the sheave has a couple of broken edges and the split pin holding the gooseneck fitting is a renown failure point.

Of course the tackle looks pretty shot too.
 This is the aft end boom fitting, a bit of corrosion, it's missing the topping lift tang and the sheave has a few broken edges.

You can see the out haul wire, it's in pretty good shape, but I hope never to have to open the boom again, so I'll change it out now.

This shows the tackle that is inside the boom, it's a 3 to 1 purchase and the line is pretty much past it's best by date. The blocks are ok, so I don't have to replace them.

The inside of the boom has typical surface corrosion, but the end where the caps fit (this is looking from the front of the boom) inside need a clean up, a hard scrub should suffice.

Notice the lines have suffered over the past 27 years.

Looking deep inside the boom, nothing other than surface corrosion showing that might bee snagging the lines, so I'm assuming the line damage is just ages of abrasion against the edges of the boom.

Thinking about putting a pvc tube inside the boom, nice clean smooth surface, that should eliminate the abrasion.
Had a really good day working on the boat!

Completed the replacement of the outhaul and the Gooseneck Casting Assembly and aft boom casting.

Replaced the Topping lift control line and the Main Halyard that's the white line with blue flecs.

The line is a bit long right now, but I'll wait till the new sail is installed on Tuesday before I cut it shorter.

Have to find out something to do with the 100' of the old halyard line.

With the new lines in place, I put the Cradle cover back on the boom, the support lines are temporary (the old lazy jack lines) and the cradle is empty right now, waiting for the new sail to be installed on Tuesday.It's starting to come together.

Next projects are:
  • Repair the broken stitching on the aft end of the dodger canvas (the blue cover over the cabin entrance)
  • Modifying the Bimini beneath the solar panels to eliminate the puddle that forms every time it rains.
  • Re-working the jib furler system so that it's easier to roll in and let out the jib as the wind dictates.
  • Install hand holds each side of the dodger to make it safer to get out of the cockpit and go forwards without having to grab hold of the canvas (that's why I'm having to repair the stitching on the dodger!)
So today was a really good day, crossed off several items that were bugging me and got the boat ready for the new sail install Tuesday, assuming the weather co-operates.

Talking about weather - do I really need a wind turbine? Hmmmmm.

See you on the water.