Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving Cruise 2017

Biscayne Bay Cruise November 2017

What a great weekend - Friday through Tuesday, we learned a lot this trip so we're really glad we made it.

Departure - Friday Nov 24th.

The day after Thanksgiving. Due to the tides, we decided to head away from the dock around 10.30am. I had already gone a fuel run, getting 15 gallons of Diesel and 5 Gallons of Gasoline for the Generator & Outboard, but we decided against taking the Generator as temperatures over the weekend were forecast to be in the 70's / 80's and being cooler at night. We still took the Gasoline as I keep a 1 gallon portable tank on the boat, small enough to refuel the Outboard engine with ease.

Peggy prepped the Food & Bedding so we quickly loaded the truck. I took along our beach cart to save trips from the Truck to the Boat.

We navigated down the New River, called the bridge tender before we could see the 11th Street Swing Bridge and it was open by the time we got there. It was an easy motor down the River.

Once anchored, we dined on Chilli for dinner, a quick freeze a meal.

Detour - not again!

Yes, again! During breakfast, I realized that I had not included some of my meds in our kit, no choice but to go home and get them.
Choices: Go back to the slip and drive home - Tides and Bridges dictated that would have to be later in the morning - too long. Go up river to Sailboat Bend, tie up and get Uber to home and back - again, too long. See if we can tie up at Bahia Mar and get Uber to home and back. 

I called Bahia Mar on #16 (switch to #68) and asked if they had facility to allow me to tie up for a couple of hours. Not sure if they recognize the name of our boat, but they responded that we could tie up North of the fuel dock. So we quickly pulled the anchor (actually I got the engine running, pulled the anchor and went back to the wheel getting us underway while Peggy was still below sorting out the cabin.  We tied up at the dock about 10 minutes later, scratching the hull slightly (hope it will buff out) on their wooden dock edge. Requested a Uber ride and walked up to the Bahia Mar entrance to meet him.

Requesting an Uber from the Dock is not the best way to get a ride - walk out to the entrance and request the ride from there. When I requested the ride, the Uber app incorrectly identified my location as being at a residential community just North of the Bahia Mar, probably because there are no residences at the Dock! It took the Uber driver about 10 minutes to navigate what would have only taken him 2 if the App had correctly identified my location.
Chirs (Uber Driver) did a great job. We chatted all the way to my house and then he waited while I picked up a few things (you know it's always more than one thing!). 

N.B. Uber Round Trip Option

Upon arrival at our house, Chris, Uber drive, closed the ride and I tried to book a new ride back to Bahia Mar. But, despite that Chris was sat in his car at the end of my driveway, he was not selected as the driver, so I cancelled that request. Tried again, same thing, cancelled again. Chris suggested he should exit the App and I should try to request a ride from inside my house. Tried that, same thing! Grrrr.

Second N.B. There is no 'Return Trip' option in the Uber App - I confirmed this with an email to Uber help.

Hear's the reply from Uber:

Hi Paul,

Happy to explain. There is no feature in the Uber app to request a round trip ride.

After requesting a ride, connect with your driver to let them know you would like to take a round trip. If they agree to take the round trip, be sure to enter the address of your first destination in the app. When you’re approaching your first destination, update the app with the address of your final destination.

Please note that because you are altering your destination while on-trip, the quoted price will not apply.
Because I didn't know that (nor did Chris) Chris offered to take me back directly.

We got back to the Bahia Mar around 10:15am. Peggy had finished prepping the cabin, taken the garbage ashore and was ready for departure as soon as I got back.

We motored away from the dock at Bahia Mar, under the 17th Street Bridge and out onto the Ocean. Beautiful day for a sail, Otto von Helm did most of the steering, we just had to make a few minor course adjustments in order to go around the hundreds of fishing boats that were anchored over every available reef!

Wind was offshore hovering around 10 knots or less most of the time. It was a relaxing sail, about time!

We kept an eye out for Duet (Bill & Colleen), guessing they had spent the day at Fowey Rocks bug hunting, but no sign of them. We motored past Government Cut in Miami down to the channel just South of Bill Baggs State Park lighthouse, then we motored up the Channel keeping to the deeper parts. There was a very busy crowd on the Beach on the South side of the Park.

Turning up on the West side of the Park, we passed No Name Harbor and the few boats that were anchored off, then Westward in order to keep in the channel and finally North, up towards Nixons Anchorage.

There had to have been over a hundred boats, many of them blaring their boom boxes and thudding the airways around the anchorage. But, typical of Miami, we expected they would depart at Sundown.

No sign of Duet, so we anchored on the North side of the anchorage. I figured they had spent Friday afternoon at the anchorage and decided they would head south to the Boca Chita or Elliott key area to get away from the noise.

Before Sunset, Duet called on our Cellphone, they wondered if we were in the area. Bill informed me that they were on the outer limits of Nixon's Anchorage, up on deck, I could see their hull and black sail bag, so I waved. It had been a long day, and I didn't feel like re-anchoring, so we agreed to just hang out and call in the morning.

As the Sun went down, Miami Lit up. It's a beautiful city at night. Click on the pic to see the big picture. I should really get Peggy to take better shots, she's a much better photographer than I.

It was a pretty quiet night once the power boats departed. We dined on Chicken & Sauce a bottle of wine and a Tot o Rum.

Slept pretty good, very pleased with our progress today.

In the morning, the boom was swaying in the wind and squeaking with each swing.

I investigated the squeak, turned out to be due to the Gooseneck Securing bolt (the long vertical bolt in this pic)

It's pretty corroded. I applied some Super Lube and that stopped the squeak, but that's a critical bolt - will replace that next week.

While preparing for the morning sail, I decided to inspect the Furler Drum which I repaired just over a month ago, the line was bunching up at the bottom of the furler making it tough to furl in the sail.

Easy solution, I moved the block (the one on the rail to the left of the Furler Drum) up by about an inch. That moved the angle of the line parallel to the drum base. Problem solved, it's easier than ever to furl in the Jib.
Note the corrosion on the tang that is below the Furler connection! More on that later.

Bill & I had agreed to spend Sunday night off of Elliott key Harbor. We sailed off the anchor in the morning and passed Duet which was getting the crew up for the day 😏

It was another great day for a sail.

I chose to tack downwind as the wind was directly along our route. We initially headed over to the West side of the Bay putting the wind off our Starboard quarter (as can be seen from the Wind Instrument) It was a great sail!

We watched as Duet hoisted their sails and turned south, it looked like they were running downwind, they have an advantage but we kept our course.

When we tacked (gybed) over to port, we passed ahead of Duet, that surprised me, I thought they would already be ahead of us.

They stayed mostly on the West side of the ICW line down to the Featherbeds Channel, we continued to sail off the wind slightly, it's far more comfortable for us than sailing dead downwind. (But wait till we get our new spinnaker up and flying.)

Wind had piped up to the low teens by the time we got to anchor. Bill & I decided it was not a great night to raft up. They came over to offer a dink ride along the shore, but we were not really feeling the need and decided to just have dinner onboard that evening.

Turned out it roughened up a bit after Sunset.

The pic is just one of several that I took hoping to get a good one. I posted it on Facebook noting that I was glad it was not a mile further North else I would have been worried. (Turkey Point Power Station is up that way!)

1st test of our new Griddle on the Stove top (have only used it in the Oven up till now) and it works like a charm, fit's like a glove and I love it!

I boiled the Spuds and Green beans, then finished them off on the griddle. Meanwhile I cooked the small Filet Mignon and then added some Almonds to the cooking beans.

Turned out really good, the griddle came seasoned, but it's taking a few uses to complete the process, hardly any smoke at this point compared to that when we first used it in the Oven.

Despite the bumpy night, we slept pretty good.
In the morning we motored off the anchor and headed for the Feather banks with a destination of Nixon's.

I don't have any more pics of that trip! Pity, because we had plenty of time!

After passing the Featherbeds, I set the Auto Pilot for a course back to Nixon's, but got tooo comfy letting Otto steer. Peggy & I were discussing the number of fishing traps on our course. I mentioned that I had found a Crab Trap in the locker that came with the boat and pulled it out.
Just as I was reading the instructions, out of interest, Peggy exclaimed - We've Stopped!

Yep, we were solidly aground on Black Ledge. Wind in the mid teens, sails with a single reef set, but pulling hard and we're going nowhere!

Checking the tides, we were at Low Tide and rising, that's the good news. The wind was trying to push us towards the center of the ledge and we were about 170' from the shallows West of it.

I wish I had a pic that showed me hanging out on the end of the boom! I had moved the Main Halyard to the end of the boom and secured that so that both the Halyard and the Topping lift were supporting the outer end of the boom. Then, with a line attached to the end of the boom and led back to the Port side winch, we eased the Traveler and the Mainsheet so that the boom could swing out all the way to the shrouds on the Port side. With a loop of line on the end of the boom, I put my weight on the loop and swung out as far as the shrouds would allow. Well, that did nothing! The good side of that is that our boat is really stable, the bad side of it is that it did nothing to lean the boat over so that we could raise the keel off the bottom. So Peggy pulled me back aboard - just in case you're ever tempted to try it, it's damned hard work hanging off the boom even with a loop for my feet.

We spent the next couple of hours waiting for the tide to come up and gradually the depth gauge read above 4' 4", when it got to 5' I pushed the engine to very slowly turn us towards the nearest edge of the ledge, within a few minutes, we were free.

Lesson Learnt

When using the Auto Pilot, make sure that we're aware of when we need to change tack. Our GPS has a feature where we can mark a boundary line or area, so it would be easy to put in an area where the the GPS would alarm us that we need to check things out. Somehow I think we'll be using that feature a lot!

We motored the rest of the way into Nixon's anchorage and found Duet already nestled in for the night. We've been to Nixon's several times now, but tonight we had a real problem anchoring. Each time we set the anchor and backed down to dig it in, it just dragged along, failing to dig down into the sandy bottom. Normally our Delta Quickset Anchor has no problems digging in, but tonight we tried 4 times without success. Finally I suggested that we move further to the East in the anchorage to test the bottom there. As we moved over to that side of Nixon's, a 47' Catana Catamaran pulled in even further East and they dug in right away. We dropped the hook, backed down as the anchor chain was paid out and it dug right in, WooHoo! 
We were pretty pooped, and when Duet called he offered to dink over to pick us up for dinner aboard Duet. They had the Lobster, we had the Filet Mignon, so we packed the cook gear up and Bill came over in his Walmart Dink, which seems to be a pretty good deal so far.

Over on Duet, I opened the Wine and Colleen brought out the Cheese, Crackers and Rum. Big shout out to El Dorado Rum! That stuff is so Smooooth! I wonder if Jeff from Cheshire Cat will read this and guess where the Rum came from 😎

Bill took us back to our boat in the dark, his boat light stuck to the top of the motor, wind picking up and it was forecast to rise up to the low twenties overnight. It did! At two o clock in the morning our Anchor Alarm sounded, a quick look showed that we were drifting South and had already drifted 180' (alarm set to 150') but it looked as though the anchor had dug in again. I turned on the Nav instruments and checked the wind speed, it was up to 28knots directly from the North. But the anchor had dug in, it held for the next 20 minutes. I had reset the anchor alarm and knew that we could drag South about a half mile before hitting the shallows on the South side of the anchorage. I elected to keep watch and suggested Peggy goes back to bed, fully dressed she did and was ready to help out if we dragged again. The wind subsided after about a half hour, we hadn't moved other than swing as the wind moved us in an arc to the East and West of our anchor point. The GPS showed a nicely bunched up track indicating that we were just swinging and all was well - for the time being. 

After an hour, I felt confident that we were set and I too went to bed, only to be woken up at 6:30 by my phone alarm in prep for the start of the trip home.

Tuesday morning I refueled from our portable diesel tanks and we left about 30 minutes after Duet, they were considering going up to Port Everglade on the outside while we had decided to go up the Ditch (ICW) 

We motored off the anchor and headed out towards the center of the Bay before we turned to go North and follow the route for the ICW to the Rickenbacker Causeway.

The wind hit 26 knots several times and we were both glad of our decision to go up on the inside.

Colleen called and advised that they too had decided to take the inside route.

This is not the first time we have taken the ICW up from Biscayne Bay. The ride up the outside would have been exciting, but perhaps a little too much so.

On the route up we had to push the engine some of the time to make the next bridge and other times we had to dawdle wasting time in order to not have to sit doing donuts in front of a closed bridge.

We did plan each bridge, so it was unexpected when we had to delay for nearly 30 minutes South of West 79th Street bridge. Our Waterway guide book reported that the bridge was open upon signal, but when we called for an opening, the bridge tender replied that the bridge next opening was on the half hour, apparently they have changed the opening from 'On Signal' to 'On the Hour and Half Hour'.

As we passed Dania Beach Blvd bridge there was a 2 1/2 knot flow against us, we crawled past that bridge, but once past we kept an eye out for the Dania Beach Cut Off canal. We'll be heading down there in a few weeks (January) to have the boat hauled out at Playboy Marina for some hull cleaning and a few other jobs.

The New River was not particularly busy and we easily navigated the bridges up to the junction between the North Fork and the South Form of the New River, then as we approached the last bridge on our route home, we saw that the 11th Street Swing bridge was open before we called and we had not heard anyone else call for an opening. Still, we called them on the VHF radio but got no reply. We carefully approached the bridge and noticed that the roadways on either side of the bridge were blocked off - seems the bridge was undergoing maintenance. 

Peggy took the helm as we passed the bridge and steered us up the canal towards our dock. 

As we approached the dock, we felt the first few drops of rain. I still needed to hose the deck down because of all the mud that was left from the anchoring demonstration the night before. 

We've pretty much got the process of unloading the boat down to an art form. I take care of the topsides, wash the deck, securing all of the lines. Peggy completes the bagging of bedding, food, clothing and laundry while I moved the truck from the parked position to the load position nearer to the front of the house and then load the bags, fuel cans, coolers, etc. etc. By the time I have everything ashore, Peggy is set to go and all I need do is secure the boat - Close all hull valves, check the electrical panel turning off everything but the bilge pump supply, setting up the damp rid and moth balls (they seem to help deter pests like rodent's and lizards), lock up the cabin, ease the dock lines and a quick check that everything is ready to leave so that we can go home.

All of that was done by 5.15pm, yep, Rush Hour! But by 6pm we were home, unloaded the truck and headed for a shower before dinner at home.

Exhausted, but what a great weekend!

As usual, we found a few 'GotADo's and we'll take care of them on Monday, including taking the boat for a dump!

Yes, we still love sailing!

See you on the water.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Regulation Issues

Charging Voltage Issues

This post is to just keep track of the issue we noticed again this last trip.

Here's the overview

We motored up the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) on Tuesday, some of the bridges are just far enough apart that we can only make them if we push our speed up a bit. That means running the engine at around 2,000 rpm for about 15 minutes. We monitor the Engine Status by checking the Engine Control panel about every 10 minutes or so, but after about 4 hours into the trip, I noticed that the Engine Tachometer was reading 0 - ZERO but everything was running just fine. And that is the issue that I'm addressing here.

More Background.

On Friday, I noticed. that there is about a 1.2 volt drop from our electrical panel to the instrument system. For example, at one point, the GPS was showing 12.6v when the Digital volt meter connected to the Bus Bar in the Electrical Control panel is reading 13.8. That's voltage drop is too high, so I need to address that, but it's important right now to consider when diagnosing the issue.

While motoring at around 1,000 rpm, the Tachometer would drop to zero and at the same time the engine sound would alter, I'm guessing it was due to a reduction in Alternator Load because the voltage display would also drop to around 12.7v (it was be higher when the Tachometer actually displayed the engine rpm.). Every few minutes, the Engine sound would alter and at that time the Tacho would correctly show the current rpm. This repeated itself, even with no throttle alteration at all, almost consistently. When we throttled up (Tach showing 0 rpm) to around 2,000 rpm, the Tach would come back on line and show the current rpm, and the voltage display at the helm (GPS) would also go backup to around 13v.


My current (no pun intended) conclusions are that there is an issue with the External Regulator and possibly the wiring of the regulator to the Alternator.

Here's my reasoning: 
  • When the Alternator is charging, there's a greater load on the engine, and the voltage display shows the charging voltage.
  • When the Regulator reduces the charging voltage, it may be turning off the control voltage to the Alternator completely, thus also removing the voltage that is used to sense the Tachometer input.
The wiring from the Regulator to the Alternator was just replaced last year when I did a complete engine harness upgrade, but that could still be an issue.

Further Research

I'm going to inspect the Regulator connections, both at the Alternator and the Battery voltage sensing connection. I have no reason to suspect the connection at the Engine Control panel as the issue is very consistent and a bad connection would either be open or intermittent, and that's not the case.

I do have a spare Regulator and intend to wire that up at some time, as it also is connected to the Link charging system that we have onboard.

Meanwhile, if you have any ideas on this issue, they would be welcome.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fire Extinguisher Recall

KIDDE Fire Extinguisher Recall

We have 3 Fire Extinguishers on Eximius and 1 at home (I know, where are my priorities?) and recently we found the details of the Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall and decided to check out ours to see if they qualify.

Here's the process that I went through to see if any of our Extinguishers were subject to recall.

Step 1: Check to see if the model is subject to recall
  • Here's the Chart that helps identify the Extinguishers with Plastic Handles
  • And here's the chart for Push Button Extinguishers
Our Home Fire Extinguisher is a type FA5G and that is subject to recall.

Step 2: Check to see if the model serial numbered item is subject to recall
  • Here's the online form, it took only a minute to complete the first part of the form.
  • Clicking on Next take you to the form where you add your particular product info.
  • I added the home model to the form and submitted that.
  • That's it.
  • A few days later I received a replacement Fire Extinguisher and instructions for returning the old unit.
I copied the process for the three extinguishers from the boat, but neither of the two FA5G models were subject to recall.

The third extinguisher from the boat is not in their list! But then again, it's a 1987 Extinguisher, and it might show that it's fully charged, but ... well, what do you think?

I don't think much extinguisher powder will come out this thing.

We'll head out to the store and get a replacement.

Time to update the Service History and add "Inspect Fire Extinguisher" to the list.

We're loading the boat for our 5 day trip starting this weekend.

See you on the water.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mast - Missing Rivets

Lower Shrouds Missing Rivets at the Mast

The last time I had to go up the mast (replacing the damaged Wind Transducer at the top of the mast) I noticed that there were two rivets missing on the Port Side that hold the Lower Shroud Plate to the mast. It's obvious that there were never any rivets in the empty holes, so they have either been missing since the boat was built, or the plate has been removed and replaced sometime, how long? Who knows, and we have owned Eximius for 2 1/2 years and we never noticed their absence. 

I only found this issue because I was inspecting the mast as I descended as I do try to take the time to check things out whenever I can, perhaps I should be a little more deliberate.

Anyway, the solution is pretty easy. Drill the 2 vacant holes to the correct size for steel pop rivets, coat the rivets with Lanocote, and pop in the rivets. Of course this has to be done while held up to the mast in my Bosuns chair about 20' off the deck.

I know! that water looks awful.

This pic was from my position at the Spreaders. I used my standard method to climb the mast - Bosuns Chair, 2 halyards tied off at the base of the mast - one for my feet & seat, the other a safety line. Prusick knots on 3 lines, slide them up or down the halyard with my weight either on the Seat or the Foot straps.

On the deck is our Dink with drill set sitting atop of it. In front of the dink at the bow is Peggy - just making sure I'm safe.

The reason for climbing the mast. The two new pop rivets are installed (Top left & lower right) with a view of one of the Prusick knots tied to the Main Halyard.

I hadn't realized that the shroud plates were secured by a huge bolt that runs right through the mast, the Rivets only hold the steel plate in place, I'm guessing that plate is just to take the strain off of the bolt where it passes through the Aluminium Mast, the metal of which is about 3/16" thick at that point.

Selfie view of my climbing gear. The thin white line is my tool bag lifting line. I pulled the bag up once I was secure at the spreaders.

I secured the foot straps to my feet by tying my sneaker shoe laces around the straps to stop the straps coming off of my feet, that has happened in the past and is a pain as it's really tough to reach down to your feet when suspended in the climbing rig.

Our neighbors on the other side of the canal are on vacation, and have family house sitting, so I was their entertainment today.

Had to take a selfie on a day like this. Sorry for the grimace, I was concentrating on trying to lean back for the pic while keeping my balance with my feet against the mast.

Sure is a nice view from up here.

On the way down, I checked out our Steaming Light and Deck Light. I think that installation includes a whole tube of silicone caulk, grrrrrr!

The lense of the steaming light is very opaque! I can see a replacement in my future, that's going to take a lot of effort as there really is a ton of Caulk plastered all around that lamp.

I think it has been modified as that type of lamp typically has the deck light built into the bottom of the lamp fitting. The existing deck light is probably Halogen (big amps) and very bright-too bright to look up at. The Steaming light is not so clever, I can tell it's lit, but not sure if it's visible over the appropriate distance. I'll probably end up drilling out those pop rivets that hold the steaming light in place and replacing the entire fitting.

What do you think? Original?

It's a cluster buck.

Future fun up the stick.

Even worse than I thought!

If you click on this pic and zoom in, you might be able to see that the 'New' deck light is wired into the old composite fitting that had it's deck light removed.


With the rivet job done, I lowered myself down to the deck. Easy Peasy.

I can sleep at night now not worrying that the mast will fall due to missing rivets.
Probably it was not an issue, but I feel better now that the missing rivets are in place.

See you on the water - we're heading down to Biscayne Bay this weekend, just in case you're in the area.


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.