Friday, September 30, 2016

Getting our MMSI ready for our 1st trip offshore

Getting our Radio ready for 1st Offshore trip

Our VHF Radio has the DSC, built in GPS and so it can pass information about our position and who we are if we ever have to send out a Distress Call. In order to pass that info, we need an MMSI number plumbed into the VHF Radio, so we started the process yesterday in anticipation that it would take a while, but we wanted to be ready long before our 1st Offshore trip which is probably going to be in the first part of 2017.

MMSI's can be obtained from many organizations such as Boat US, but not if there is intent upon International Travel - then the MMSI has to be obtained from the FCC. And that requires an extra step.

So! Step 1: Get an FCC Registration.
If you look through all of the documentation, it looks daunting, but when it comes down to it, we were able to register with the FCC online in just a few minutes.

After completing the online Form and submitting it, we had the first part of the equation: A login, Password and FCC Registration code. Sweet!

Step 2: Get a Radio Station Authorization (includes the MMSI) Again, visit and this time Online Filing Login. Now we could proceed with the information required. 
We needed:
  • Owner Information.
  • Emergency Contact Information (two)
  • Boat Information (including Vessel Documentation Info)
That was about it! It took all of 20 minutes to complete the process and be ready to pay for the application, $220. Once all was confirmed, we paid by credit card.

Then it was wait! We expected we would have to wait several weeks, so it was a huge surprise when we received an email with our License and MMSI first thing this morning.

Now we just have to make sure that our Local Boater Option (LBO) is still valid from when we last used it back in 2008.

See you on the water!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Day sail out of the USA on Auto Pilot

Well, nearly!

After all of the work done over the past couple of months, we went on a day sail yesterday beyond the 3 mile limit.

Weather was calm, winds around 10 knots mostly from the East backing to NE by E and it was a great sail. We were on a steady reach doing an average of 5+ knots under beautiful skies. Of course, it's that time of year, so there were storms developing in the South overland so we had a good view of the lightning strikes that were probably 5 to 10 miles away, looked like they were hitting Hollywood.

So once business was done (had to do a pumpout) we turned back to port just as the wind dropped so low that we were doing less than 3 knots. Peggy took the helm and I lowered the sails, bagging the main just in case the wind piped up again. Then, once heading back to Port Everglades, we tried out the Auto Pilot, 1st time since I cut out all of those useless cables that were part of the non-functional instruments that used to be on the Stbd side of the Pedestal. It worked! I used the AP to steer us all the way to the inside of the 1st pair of channel markers, adjusting the compass setting on the AP control panel rather than disengage the AP and steer to the new course. Worked great! 

We headed back to Port Everglades, not much traffic, but we had anticipated that by looking up the Port schedule online in the morning. It was high tide, and the 17th Street bridge showed 55' above the fenders, but I swear that our antenna looked to be within inches of the underside of the center of the bridge as we passed beneath it.

The storms had passed as we headed up the Intracoastal to Sand Bar Park and then turned West into the New River. Plan was to pass under Andrews Avenue Bridge and tie the boat alongside the Briny Pub for lunch. No big deal tying up, had to be a bit careful to avoid scraping the hull against the raw concrete dockside. A couple of the cleats were loose, secure but loose and, if you go there, do not lean on the dockside lights! I didn't fall in, but it was close!

Lunch at the Briny was great. We explained to our server that we had to leave to make the bridges by 4pm, so he quickly took our order and it was delivered hot and quickly too. Really good Mediterranean Tilapia Salad for me and Peggy had the Same with Chicken. 
It was really pleasant sitting there close to the dockside watching the traffic on the water and on the sidewalk all the while listening to the music. It was 3pm, so not many patrons in the pub, we had plenty to chat about, so it was a nice lunch together.

Paid the bill and walked the few yards to the boat. Peggy boarded and started the engine while I prepared to cast off the lines. A stranger sat on a dockside bench close to the boat commented on how nice the boat looked. I'm too aware of the bumps and bruises that our boat has, and where she could do with new paint. But he was right - she is a beautiful boat!

See you on the water.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Passing By

We were motoring back towards our slip just before noon today, Sunday, after an overnight at Lake Sylvia during the Harvest moon.

So, forgive me as I just take a few minutes to share what it's like motoring backup the New River in Fort Lauderdale, which is probably much like motoring through any river towards the boat's slip, anywhere in the country. I would like to think it is.

Over the past year we have gotten to recognize the voices of the bridge tenders at each of the 4 bridges we have to pass as we motor up the busy New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

We're familiar with the twists and turns on the river, and used to the friendly waves and the camera snapshots as we pass by. We know where the trees overhang the river and need to be avoided. There are the sharp turns where current tends to twist the boat's direction. By Andrews Avenue Bridge there are two pump outflows that have a habit of opening just before pass them, that outflow will push us across the river if we don't have enough momentum (enough way in sailors parlance.)

If you spot us as we head up the river, you'll notice that we'e wearing our lifejackets, one of my boat rules - If we're not tied to something, Anchor, Dock, Another boat, then anyone outside the cabin must wear their lifejacket. You'll also notice that we are probably the only boat you'll see the crew wearing them, but that's ok, we'll set the example.

As we motor along, we'll pass many boats tied up to slips or docks. Some have the telltale thick green crud along their water line, that usually indicates they have been there a while, months if not years. Some of the boats seem abandoned, and some are always spotless. There'll be the occasional crew onboard, and they will normally take the time to wave as we pass.

It always crosses my mind as we see those boats, tide up, as we pass. I envy them sometimes, probably living on their boat, perhaps stopping in Fort Lauderdale for a break as they transit the ICW or even the world. And I wonder how many of them envy us because we're not tied up, we're moving!

When it comes down to it, it's the Moving part of being on a sailboat that I enjoy the most. You might hear the phrase that 'You get there faster in a Power boat' and 'You're already there in sail boat'. I agree totally, we're already there when we're on our Sailboat. And when we're moving, either outbound to the Ocean or inbound back to our slip, it doesn't matter, we're there.

See you on the water. - Moving!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Engine Crankcase Breather Mod

During the engine work this summer, we spent a good while cleaning the surfaces of the Engine, particularly those visible from above as those were the ones that were coated in engine grime probably spewed out of the Engine Crankcase Breather Hose.

This pic of the Engine prior to the work shows where the Breather Hose is just located near to the Air Filter and some of the grot on the surfaces of the Engine.
It also shows the Water heater by-pass hose that connects the coolant pump to the Thermostat housing. ie. The hot water tank is not connected to the engine cooling system, so no hot water unless we are plugged into shore power.

In this pic, taken after the Engine work, is shown the New Breather Hose connection to the Air Filter and the Hot Water Heater tank connections in place of the by by-pass.

Today's work includes running the Engine to confirm that the Coolant system has been Burped successfully.

And it's time for an Engine's Running Video.

Dockside Engine Test

Local Kubota Dealer

Kubota Dealer - Pompano Beach FL

One of the benefits of DIY engine service is that you're forced to find local resources for help on the engine. I found one just 10 Minutes away from our home in Margate FL.

Southeastern Power Products in Pompano Beach FL 

I had an issue replacing the Air Filter in our Universal M25-XP Diesel Engine on Eximius, not a surprise, it's nearly 30 years old. The old air filter looked pretty much like a wad of stainless steel shavings - a bit like a Stainless Pan Scrubber. I asked the guys at Southeastern Products about my options.
Most stores would tell you that you're out of luck, here's a possible replacement and it costs a BOAT or two. One of the guys in the store researched the engine specs and the air flow requirements and was able to bring out an alternative unit - if it would fit inside our engine bay. One of the guys in the store is a Marine guy, obviously knows his stuff and was able to find several alternative methods of connecting one of the new Air Filters to the engine.
Meanwhile, I asked a 3rd guy about the Thermostat for our engine and commented on the fact that it's been missing since we purchased the boat. Several guys chimed in on the consequence of running a diesel engine so cool - our's ran around 110°F - the guys recommended a thermostat that kept the engine around 173°F but not for a water cooled exhaust system. So I'm ok with our 145°F thermostat that I had purchased previously. Again, they took the time to listen to my issues and coming up with qualified responses.

I took a few pics of the Air Filters that they suggested with a tape measure included so that I could figure out if the filter would fit.

The whole unit was about $50, very reasonable, but would it fit?

We went down to the boat to measure, and sadly it would barely fit and would have to be removed in order to change out the internal air filter.

So on the way back home, we stopped by Southeastern Power Products and thanked the guys. They took the time, again, to answer a question I had about the starter solenoid - they had one in stock $66 but during discussion, I realized that I could just re-install the old, but serviceable, solenoid that I had removed 2 months ago in preference for a slightly different unit.

While there, I took this pic - not especially exciting, but that wall is just the front a computerised storage system that is nearly 18' tall behind the wall. That allows them to stock a huge inventory of parts.

It's nice to know that a company that obviously handles a very wide range of products and stocks a gazillion Kubota Parts and has a really supportive attitude to their customers.

While there I could hear one of the girls handling calls for parts, so I assume they take calls for mail order.

Thanks Guys! Somehow I think I'll be back again. Hope you all have a great Labor Day.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Good Vibrations - Part V

WooHoo! It worked

After a small 'gotcha' in the initial start up yesterday, today we're all smiles!
A quick trip to West Marine (waste of time today) and a successful trip to Boat Owners Warehouse, we then went to the boat intent on getting the initial startup after all the work on the Engine Exhaust, Electrical Harness, New Instruments, New Engine Mounts and hooking the Engine Coolant system to the Hot Water Heater.

Considering this was really my first big job on an engine system, I'm really pleased. Ken Kloeber of Weekend'r Products was able to supply all of the wiring & wire lug needs and the New Tachometer, the rest came from various suppliers via Amazon.

Before we started the engine for the first time, we had all of the boat's extinguishers handy and Peggy out in the Cockpit and myself with an escape route just in case anything went really wrong. It felt a bit like the first start of the Star Ship Enterprise! 

Peggy turned on the Ignition, I could hear the fuel pump running - good sound! Ran the engine bay blower motor - another good sound! Next the Glow Plugs, no sounds - that's good, and no huge spike in amps as displayed on the Electrical Control Panel. Raw Water valve open, ready to go! Peggy pressed on the Start Button and the engine sprang into life - a little hesitant but we realised the boat was in gear - we had let the moment obscure that little fact. Into Neutral, engine is purring!

That initial run was just to make sure the starter worked and there were no initial leaks - Passed!

We shut down the engine and gave it a breather while we celebrated with an ice cold water and lunch sandwich.

2nd Start (In Neutral) and it started without hesitation. We both compared the vibration to what we had previously experienced and both of us concluded that it's vastly superior!
The engine quickly came up to 145F, all of the gauges working (lites too) let it run for about 5 minutes this time. 

So with that success, it's time to finish up: New Exhaust Riser Insulation Jacket - Done, Water Lines to Bathroom connected - Done, Electrical wiring inside engine bay secured - Done.

Next it was time to check out the water heater - but Mom Nature stepped in to put that test on hold - Heavy storms heading up from the South East. So a quick tidy up - Put all tools away, toss out all of the hose cut offs less than 4' long, close up the boat and head home.

Really pleased with progress today - if the weather had not intervened we would have refilled the water tanks & completed the hot water heater test. Tomorrow!

Engine Ready to Start

New Breathe hose to Air filter input

New Riser Insulation jacket

Water Heater Hosed Reconnected to Engine Coolant System

Electrical wires secured from chaffe 

Alternator Reconnected

Engine Hast not been this Clean since we purchased her.

Raw Water Hose & Filter in front of Repaired Aqua Lift Muffler

Next pics should be of us underway and Eximius back out on the Water. Well, it is Labor Day Weekend!

See you out there.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Handy Weather Routing Service

If you use this service - read their disclosures and keep your own eyes open.

One of our longer term sailing goals (ok, one of mine) is to get a picture of us on Eximius with the Statue Of Liberty in the background.

To that end, I have been studying weather patterns, forecasts, weather faxes and routes from Florida up to New York Harbor.

I recently found this terrific site that provides computed routing.

Check it out!

I'll add that to my Links page (see menu above)

See you on the water - and perhaps en-route to the big lady!

Good Vibrations - Part IV

Slowly - but getting there!

Our home schedule changed this week, so we went down to the boat on both Monday & Wednesday and made good progress both days.

The Electrical harness is complete all bar the securing of the harness to nearby bulkheads and tying wires out o the way of the vibrating engine. 

The Raw Water hoses are all in place and just need their hose clamps securing.

The Engine to Water Heater hoses are both replaced and connected and the new Thermostat is in place, but I do need a couple of elbow fittings to reduce stress on the hot water tank connections and avoid having the new hoses kinking.

So the last thing to do prior to attempting an engine start is tightening all of the hose clamps, priming the Coolant System (burping the engine) and installing the new Drive Belt to replace the old one which is obviously not new and now's a good a time as any to replace it.

The plan is to get all of that done on Saturday. With luck we'll be running the engine by lunchtime.

So the to do list:
  • Install 2 Elbows in the hoses from the water heater to the engine coolant water hoses.
  • Tighten all hose clamps
  • Install new Drive belt and adjust to correct tension
  • Complete an Oil Change
  • Top up the Coolant and Prime the Coolant lines
  • Secure all of the harness wiring to nearby bulkheads.
  • Test run the engine and look for leaks in the Raw Water System, Coolant System and Exhaust System.
  • Dress the new Riser in it's fancy insulation jacket.
  • Clean up the boat interior!
I hope we can get all of that done Saturday, and after running the engine for at least a half hour alongside the dock, then perhaps- Odin on our side - we'll get the boat away from the dock on Sunday!