Saturday, November 10, 2018

Upgrading the Mainsheet Block System

Yes, we're still making improvements to Eximius and this one is a long time coming.

The Mainsheet (the line that controls the position of the Boom) runs through a total of 9 Sheaves (the pulleys inside a block) and 7 of those are original to the boat, so they are going on 31 years old. I have cleaned and lubricated those blocks many times, but it really does not make much difference.
Normally, the crew will 'play' with the Mainsheet and the Traveler to keep the sail shaped appropriately with changes in the wind.

To explain how bad the blocks work: In order to ease the boom from the centerline, even when the sail is full of wind pressure, we have to ease the Mainsheet by pulling on one of the lines in the Mainsheet block system and then letting it go so that the boom moves and takes up the slack. In order to move the boom back towards the centerline we have to use a winch! Consequently, we often position the Mainsheet and let it be, even if we need to move the sheet unless it's a significant sailing status change like from Close Hauled to a Beam Reach..

This means that we don't get the best speed from the boat! We updated the Traveler a while ago and that does give us a decent amount of change but it does not encourage correcting mainsail twist, and hence boat speed.

Scouring the Internet for replacement blocks, with a preference for Garhauer equipment, matching the new Traveler and new Deck Organizers, I was dismayed at the pricing, it looked like we would have to pay around $650 for the set of blocks, Dang! and we're watching the pennies as we had to buy a new truck earlier this month.

Peggy asked what kind of blocks were sold by Catalina Direct for the C34, hadn't thought of that! A quick review of the CD site and I found they had a C34 Mk1 Mainsheet Block Kit for $266.
Image from Catalina Direct

The kit comprises

  • 3 Single Blocks with Shackles
  • 1 Single Block with Shackle & Becket
  • 1 Fiddle Block with attached Single Block with a shackle on the Fiddle Block
When I called Catalina Direct, they confirmed the blocks were Garhauer Blocks - awesome!

I didn't need the 3rd Single Block as I had replaced the block at the base of the mast already.

The cost bottom line was $246.70 for the kit and shipping after the discount for not needing the 3rd Single Block. The new block kit is on it's way and should arrive by late next week.

Peggy is pleased because we have been discussing sail trim a lot recently and it would make a huge difference if she could adjust the Mainsheet, and this kit should enable that.

I'm hoping that the end of the sheet, which attaches to the becket in the middle block on the Boom, will easily transfer to the new becket, else I'll have to re-splice that eye. The rest of the Mainsheet should just thread through the new blocks.

Here's a pic of the completed installation. 

I didn't need to make a new eye on the end of the Mainsheet, it fit the becket on the upper middle block just fine.

The astute will notice that there is a twist in the sheet (black & white rope) at the additional block on top of the Mainsheet fiddle (click on the image to zoom in) That's because that extra block is from the old setup and is too big! The kit was sent without the extra block because they were out of stock for that item, it's slightly smaller than the old block and it will not be on a swivel.
A nice feature of the new blocks: The shackle pins are threaded into the shackle and have a securing ring though a hole drilled through the threaded portion of the pin. I much prefer this setup to one where the pin is secured only by the ring. Nice job Garhauer!

The difference in friction between the old setup and the new, with the passing through 9 blocks and 1 rope clutch, is staggering! I can now ease the Mainsheet by opening the clutch and then applying a few ounces of pressure on the boom (which would be done by the wind on the sail).

We have a working Mainsheet! WoooHoo! Of course, we're not sailing for at least another week!

But we'll see you on the water!


Update: Tuesday 11/20/2018

Great news! The additional block for the Fiddle arrives today, so we should be able to install it prior to our sail up to Lake Worth on Friday.

Not only handsome, but it looks really well made and the sheave almost floats on it's bearings.
This, non-swiveling, block should also eliminate the twist in the last part of the mainsheet, an added benefit.

Not sure if we're going to make it to Lake Worth this weekend, bummer! But we'll go down to the boat and install the new block, that will finish off the new Mainsheet Block System.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Getting Rid of the Rain Water

Keel Stepped Mast = Occasional Rain Water in the Bilge

In a recent edition of the Mainsheet Magazine for Catalina Owners, Seth Martin had written a great article about building and installing a Bilge pump system to cope with those small amounts of water that end up in the bilge, basically what would be left over if the Automatic Bilge Pump ran, perhaps a Gallon or two over a number of rainy days.

Currently, we manually hand pump out the rain water and then soak up what the pump cannot get with a few diapers and finally dry the bilge with a few paper towels. I did purchase a battery operated fluid transfer pump from Amazon, but when it arrived it was marked up as an Olive Oil Transfer pump. It might work for Olive oil, but it sucks (pun intended) at pumping water!

Just to show what we're talking about.

Here's a pic of the #3 Bilge area (#1 is in front of the mast,#2 is immediately behind the mast and has the Bilge Float Switch sitting in the bottom, and this one is #3 which has the Bilge pump attached to the bottom

The water is after a few days of rain. We pumped this out by hand and then dried it up with a couple of diapers (our Grand Daughter no longer needs them ๐Ÿ˜€

It's about 3/4" and there's a similar depth in each of the other bilge areas.

There are commercial products on the market, but when I have the chance of another DIY project, that causes me to get excited. Seth's system is brilliant.

Basically the System consists of a small water pump, a digital timer to control it, some tubing and pickups all fed to a manifold connected to the Pump inlet, the Pump outlet fed to an overboard drain.

Eximius has 4 Bilge areas each connected by limber holes or tubes, so each needs a pump out.

So, first thing was to investigate the pumps available. I elected to purchase this SeaFlo Type 21 12v Diaphragm Pump on Amazon.

It arrived early :)

A quick connection to a 12v power supply to check that it ran and all is great.

It has an Automatic Pressure sensing switch but i it can be bypassed.


Then I spent a while picking out a timer. I found this 12v Digital Timer with on/off control.

Found this one, again on Amazon.

  • Rated Voltage: 12V DC; Contact Capacity: 16A
  • Full Time Range: 1Min-168 Hours; Programmable: 17 times/week or day
  • Internal battery: 1.2V/40mA (rechargeable batteries)
  • Power failure memory: 60 days; Operate Temperature: -10 to +40 C
  • Dimensions: 60x60x32mm; Net weight: 80g


Next, I needed to find a way to hold the Drainage Pickups that have to be installed in each of the Bilge Spaces. I could not find anything ready made, but was able to make them using an Electrical Installation Box from ACE hardware,

I figured I could cut them to create brackets that would hold the pickups in place but also allow for future sponge replacements.

A few minutes with a Back Saw and then clean up the edges with a Stanley knife and they are ready to go

The slot in the lower edge will allow me to push the Pickup tube in place with the Sponge below the bracket.

$0.79 x 2

In the pic, There are 4 Red & Black left over drip assemblies from a Harbor Freight Garden Drip System, I knew they would come in handy one day. All I had to do to make them suitable to act as Pickups was to cut off the barb on the Red End.

The Sponge pieces are about 1 1/4" Square with a hole pushed through with a Screw Driver.

The Black Plastic 3/16" Tees are also left over from the Drip system.

On the Left is a completed pickup, that will connect to the Pump input manifold (that will be made from Tubing)

This shows a Completed Drain Pickup with the Tube in the Bracket Slot ready to connect to the Pump Input Manifold.

Plan is to Glue the Bracket to the side of the bilge with just enough room beneath it to be able to slide the Tube & Sponge out so that I can replace the Sponges in the future.

I'll probably use 3M 4000 to secure the bracket in place.

So far so good.

Here's what the Pickup looks like from underneath.

I did a test using two of the pickups connected to the Pump via a 30' long piece of 3/16" tubing. They were placed in a small tub (Butter Spread Tub) with about 2" of water in it.

Then I ran the pump connected to my 12v power supply. It drained the Tub in less than a minute, and the Tub was basically dry, certainly dry enough to evaporate naturally.

Seth's project seems to be very suitable. He installed his in a Catalina 25, The bilge areas on our Catalina 34 already have quite a bit of equipment in them: Bilge Pump Control Float, Bilge Pump, Bilge Pump Hoses, 2nd Bilge Pump Hose, and finally Keel Bolts.

So my pickups are quite a bit smaller than those that Seth made for his boat.

The Boat's Main Bilge Pump has 1.5" tubing running from the Pump to the Overboard Discharge at the rear of the boat, that's about 25' of hose! When the pump stops because the water level is too low, the water in the hose floods back into the bilge. New Nearly Dry Bilge System will pump that water out.

However, I'm concerned that the hose from the Pump to the new Overboard Discharge vent will also be able to flood back into the bilge when the pump turns off at the end of it's 'Pump On' period. To prevent that, I'm going to install a One Way Water Non Return Valve in the discharge tubing near to the Outlet of the Pump.

With that installed, when the pump turns off, any water in the discharge hose will simply stay there, although, if the pump runs when the bilge is empty, then it will blow any water that is in the discharge hose out of the overboard discharge vent.

After several experiments, I came up with this solution.

The Pickups will be larger than originally prepared as per the pics above. The Pump will be attached to a Starboard Plate with 4 Stainless Steel Thumb screws (ACE Hardware) and the suction side will be from the middle of the two forward and the two aft pickups.

The Output of the pump will be attached to a new Vent that will be installed below the existing Aft Fresh Water Tank Vent that exits into the Cockpit beneath the Auto Pilot Control head. I'll add a non-return valve just upstream of the Pump output line to prevent water in the line from flowing back into the Bilge via the new Dry Bilge Pump.

The wiring of the Pump is pretty straight forward.

The Timer switch will have a 2amp fuse to the Bilge Pump Circuit before the Circuit Breaker - that way, if the timer fails and blows the fuse, it would not blow the bilge pump power supply - Bilge Pump is essential circuit

-ve from the Timer Switch Power Supply to Ground

-ve from the timer Switch to Ground.

So if the Timer or the Pump blow the fuse, the Circuit breaker that provides power to the Main Automatic Bilge Pump will remain live.

Ok, installation complete.

Final install was slightly different from the above as the blue pickup holders were not necessary. The pickups and sponges stay in place without any additional support.
The system has been running for two weeks and our bilge is DRY!

I have programmed the timer to turn the pump on for 1 minute every 2 hours during the day and 3 hours during the night. So far it's working perfectly, the bilge is totally dry. Time to clean the bilge and make it look pretty.

Of course, this is November, dry season here in South Florida, but we tend to have rain every couple of weeks, it rained yesterday and again today. I'll keep a watch on the bilge pump counter and on the state of the bilge itself. 

So far, I'm really pleased with the way it's working. Having a totally dry bilge is a big deal! 

See you on the water.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I find Whips Sexy

Boat Whips that is!

In the ongoing campaign to keep Iguanas from pooping on Eximius at the dock, we were suggested installing Boat Whips. As it happens, a friend of ours is selling their boat and the whips were not included - She offered them to us for Free! Would not accept payment so I promised some of my home / boat baked bread when we are nearby.

Taking the whips home with about 12' hanging out of the back of our F150 was a little nerve racking, but I tied two bright flags to the end of the whips so that any following vehicle could see them, that worked! Each time a vehicle approached from behind, they stayed well back!

At home I sanded down the aged fiberglass splintered whips and applied a half dozen coats of Krylon Spray Paint  - Mahogany Red! Wire brushed the flaking paint from the base plates and sprayed them Black. For aged whips, they now look pretty good.

The bases are secured to the decking with 4" 1/2" Bolts and Nylock Nuts & Fender washers underneath the deck. I cut a piece of 1/2" thick rubber floor tile so that the bases would not cut into the deck planking.

Getting the washers & nuts onto the bolts below the deck was a challenge, but a decent amount of sweat and puffing got them done.

The line that came with the whips is in pretty good shape, but was too short for this setup, so I extended the line with some spare from the boat - all boat owners tend to have 'extra' line onboard!

The Whip line is secured to a cleat on the whip at the dock side and onto a cleat nearest the dock on the boat.

We normally have the boat facing East, but it's facing West right now as we didn't want to turn the boat upon our last return to the dock, simply because we wanted a quick unload and get home for a nice shower!

The Whips hold the boat nearly 2' from the dock unless the wind is from the North, which does happen, but mostly it's from the East. When wind is from the North, the boat moves towards the dock and then eases off again, we'll have to practice adjustment of the whip lines in order to find the optimum position.

Thanks Eileen!

See you on the water!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

HISC Sailing Social 2018

Each year the HISC holds a Sailing Social, basically a bunch of members go out on their boats following a 'leader' and navigate in ever decreasing circles - ie. going nowhere.
But every boat has at least one person with a camera that takes pics of all the other boats, then we share them after the weekend.

For us, the weekend meant we had to leave the dock Friday at 5:30pm in order to miss the bridge lockdowns and get past the shallow end of our canal before low tide. So we spent the night at Lake Sylvia. We had Sausage and Veggies for dinner, we didn't run the generator, thinking that the cool breeze would last all night. It didn't!

Saturday morning, we pulled anchor, left the lake and headed out to the Ocean via the Port Everglades channel, it was a beautiful day for sailing! We headed casually North East to the 3 mile limit for a pump out, then turned towards Hillsboro Inlet's outer marker (the HI Buoy) to meet up with the other members, I think most of them came out of the Hillsboro Inlet.

Here's some pics.

After the 5pm end of the Sailing Social, we sailed towards the HI Buoy then into wind, dropped our sails and motored into the Inlet for the 5:15pm bridge opening then headed North up the ICW

We arrived at the Hillsboro Blvd Bridge just in time for an opening and then motored up to the Camino Real Bridge, but that bridge is being rebuilt and right now, it's open with both leaves of the Bascule Bridge up, so we were able to just motor through.

We met up with Paul & Leanne McKissick in Lake Boca and could smell their dinner cooking in the BarBQue on the back of Margarita.

That night we ran the Generator until 1am, I could have let it run as it ran out of gas 20 minutes after restarting it in the morning to charge batteries.

By 10 am we were heading down the ICW towards the Hillsboro Inlet, saying bye to Paul & Leanne although I don't know if they heard us.

Out on the Ocean it was another gorgeous day on the water, ideal for sailing. We had a great reach all the way down to Port Everglades, sails down, motor in and back to Lake Sylvia where we just hung out until 5:30pm. Hauling the anchor we took an easy motor up the New River, back to our slip and the quickest unload ever, thanks to taking the time while sitting in Lake Sylvia to unload the Fridge/Freezer, bedding, and all the usual stuff we bring home, including the broken flag pole for repair.

Awesome sailing weekend, we'll definitely be doing that again in 2019.

See you on the water.

Octoberfest 2018

Ok, let's make this one quick.

The HISC's Octoberfest was held on Sunrise Bay, just North of Sunrise Blvd Bridge on the West side of the Intracoastal Water Way. (ICW)
We had at least 15 boats attend and several more club members arrived by water taxi (Dink Rides), some of us arrived Friday (extra Cruising Point) but most arrived Saturday in time for the EXCELLENT cruise dinner of Brats, Red Cabbage and Roasted Potatoes followed by some awesome deserts and, of course, beers for the sailors.

Hosts were Intermission, Imagine and Wind Punk. 
On the bay that night were: 
Eximius, Diversion, Intermission, Wind Punk, Cheshire, Alebjie, Dalcarlia, Affection, Pegasus, Imagine, Lady Gray, Fandango, Haven (Cookie Monster - Eduardo's new boat), Po Poki II and Duet

Many of the club cruises include a 'best dressed' competition, resulting in prize for the best Gals Costume, Best Guys and Best Couples costumes.

Here's the winner:

Costume from Amazon, Hair by Peggy, Dinner by Cheryl, Fun by HISC.

See you on the Water.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2018

Annapolis - Just for the fun of it.

We went to Annapolis in 2013, it rained! Every Day! But we really enjoyed the visit. On that trip we visited the US Naval Academy, The Boat Show, and local antique store and museums.

We're hoping the weather will be better this year and are looking forward to the Boat Show, the Blue Water Brokerage Show and, hopefully, the Maritime Museum and possibly the Chesapeake Bay Museum. We also hope to meet up with a few of the HISC members and even with some old 'online' acquaintances from the Catalina 25's Association. We're only there 3 full days, flying in Thursday afternoon and flying back on Monday around Noon.  

The Blue Water Brokerage Show is being sponsored by David Walters Yachts, Josh McLean, a HISC member will be there. Amanda Hyatt Haley, another HISC member, from Dennison Yachts will be at the Boat Show, so we should recognize a few people, but I'll make sure to wear my HISC Caps and Shirts just in case!

We're staying at the Annapolis Westin, and will get either an Uber or shuttle from there to the shows. That also means I'll have my cellphone charged and on for the entire trip which will help with casual meet ups with our friends also in the area.

See you there!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Just a Day Sail

Just a Day Sail outside Port Everglades

We have been really busy around the house for months and the feeling of  'Why aren't we sailing' grew daily. So we planned on a Day sail outside of Port Everglades and an overnight at Lake Sylvia.

The Tides & Weather cooperated for a Tuesday sail, so we went down to the boat on Monday to tidy up the cabin, cool down the Fridge/Freezer, and load up the few things we had taken off the boat after the abandoned sail up to Lake Worth for Labor Day. 

Tuesday we headed down to the boat for a 9:30am departure from the dock, just after high tide and after the bridges open from their lock down during rush hour road traffic. 
At the dock we saw some heavy Algae on the surface of the water and just below. Yuck!

Leaving the lines on the dock pilings, and passing down the canal to the New River, we were the only moving boat, everyone else is still tied up to their dock in various stages of repair, recovery, or, sadly, seemingly abandonment.

We eased into the New River checking for boat traffic, it's rare just there, but if there is any, it can be an awkward turn as it's pretty narrow due to a few boats tied up opposite the end of the canal. Turning downstream we headed past the many boats that are tied up at various homes, most likely for additional income, some homes have a half dozen boats at their docks. 

Rounding the bend towards the 11th Avenue Swing Bridge, we call them on the radio requesting an opening
"11th Avenue Swing Bridge, 11th Avenue Swing Bridge, this is the Sailing Vessel Eximius, Outbound, requesting an opening" ---- No reply ---- try again "11th Avenue Swing Bridge" etc. By now we are insight of the bridge and slowing down while anticipating a delay in the bridge opening.

"Vessel hailing 11th Avenue Swing Bridge - Sorry folks, there's a delay in opening due to a control problem.... might take a few minutes to fix"

"11th Ave - Eximius, Roger, we'll just turn a few doughnuts out here waiting" This has happened before, and the last time it took about 15 minutes for the bridge to open.

We did a half dozen doughnuts (just going around in circles) as the wind was trying to move us from an easy holding station. After 30 minutes we called again asking how they were progressing.
Their response, not sure, might be an hour or more. 

Now we have a potential problem. We can only get to and from our dock about 2 hours either side of High Tide as at the Andrews Avenue Bridge. So if we waited at the 11th Ave bridge beyond 11am, we would be stuck until two hours before high tide that evening, about 7:20pm, that's a long hang out time! We decided to head back to the dock while we still could and try again Wednesday.

Back at the dock, we left the cold food in the Fridge/Freezer and took the non-perishable home - not wanting to leave any food for vermits!

Trying again - Wednesday

Yep, down to the boat, an hour later Wednesday (tide times) we quickly prepped the boat, including adding some Diesel Kleen +Cetane Boost to the fuel tank, we were ready to leave but had some time to kill so I took a pic of my latest sewing project - Gas Can Covers

This pic shows the Sunbrella Cover for a plastic Gas Can.
It's secured to a Stainless Steel tube rail that's attached to two of the Lifeline Stanchions. The cover has built in webbing straps with plastic buckles which wrap around the tube rail and buckle together while holding down the cover.

Back to the trip out. We called the 11th Avenue bridge by phone from the dock to confirm they were in operation. They are good to go, so we cast off and head down the canal. Approaching the 11th Ave bridge, we call on the radio and they start the opening procedure - without any issues today WooHoo!

All the other bridges are quick to open when we call them, and the FEC rail bridge is open, so no delays heading down the New River. We only had to wait a couple of minutes for Andrews Ave Bridge to open, no boat traffic so no problem.

Peggy took the helm as we passed around Tarpon Bend while I prepared the sails and running rigging. The wind was forecast to be in the low to mid teens, so I put in two reefs, the boat sails really well even with 2 reefs! We passed under 17th Street Causeway bridge, passed the turning basin and headed out of the Port Everglades channel. Tide was ebbing and wind was from the E - ESE, so the ride out of the channel was a bit bumpy, nothing more than that.

As we passed the last pair of channel markers, we raised the Main sail, using our trusty electric winch handle, then turned towards the NE and unfurled the Jib to the 2nd reef point (stopped the un-furl when we could see the first black dot near the tack of the sail). Dropped the traveller a few inches off center, engaged Otto (the Auto Pilot) and headed N-NNE.

The boat was beautifully balanced, our speed through the water was nearly 5 knots even with 2 reefs, and Otto handled the steering easily. It was a great sail. We headed up towards Hillsboro Inlet, did a few practice tacks with Peggy taking over the helm rather than work the Auto Pilot (something I need to practice if ever I want to single hand Eximius) 

There were several other sailboats on the Ocean within a couple of miles. Peggy was feeling very comfortable with the way the boat behaved, and that's important as we work our way up to going on longer trips (Keys, Bahamas, and further).

After a couple of hours, we turned back into Port Everglades - Now the Tide was in Full Ebb and the wind had picked up to a consistent 14 knots - Wind over tide is never very nice, it was really bouncy as we tried to run downwind inside the channel. So we turned into wind, dropped the main, turned back towards the Port and furled in the Jib, still bumpy, we may have been better off leaving the Jib out to take some of the bounce out of the channel waters.

Passing under 17th Street bridge heading North, we had over 2 knots of tide against us, our speed dropped from 6 knots through the water to less than 4 knots on the GPS. Once past the bridge fenders we picked up some GPS speed and headed up the ICW towards Bahia Mar, turned into the channel into Lake Sylvia hugging the East side to stay away from the really shallow sections. The tide was still heading out, but now it was behind us as the flow from the ICW is split between the ICW and the channels out on the South side of Lake Sylvia.

Surprisingly, Lake Sylvia was not crowded, there's normally a lot of Liveaboard / Derelict boats anchored in the Lake, but only 6 or 7 that day, so plenty of room to pick for our overnight anchor.

Peggy got the boat going astern as I started to drop the anchor, with about 75' of chain out, I called for her to put the engine (Geeves) in Neutral, as I did so, the Anchor Dug in and the chain sprung taught, we were dug in! We should sleep well that night.

Once the anchoring process was complete, anchor alarms set, electronics turned off and Beer & Wine were ready for a mid afternoon break, I setup the Generator (Honda 2000i) and the Air Conditioning. 
The boat astern of us was flying a Gulfstream Sailing club burgee, so I hauled up our Cruising Flags onto the Starboard Flag Halyard just in case anyone was there to see them. The only person we saw was rowing his dinghy from the South end of the Lake to his boat which was anchored NW of us, no mast, no boom - live-aboard with his dog. 

The boat cooled down in about 30 minutes, while we sat in the cockpit talking about how the sail went and how well the boat handled. A nice finish to a great day - it's always a great day when all's well on board in the evening.

We had dinner, Chicken & Pasta, watched a movie on the TV, showered, checked on our Emails and FB. A quick check up top to see that all was secure and no lines to clang against the mast. 

When I turned to look toward Bahia Mar, I could see these two really bright lights. They would ruin the night vision of anyone plying the ICW that night (if you click on the image you can view it full size) 

I raised the Dinghy up from it position on deck just in case we wanted to turn the AC off and let some air flow in from the V-Berth Hatch. Time to turn in, so we turned off the Generator, turned on the berth fan, opened the hatch and that was it for the night.

The wind was up and down like a yo yo all night, but we manged to sleep most of the night, a sailors sleep.

Thursday Morning

Workers on the house construction around the lake greeted us early Thursday morning, no consideration ;) We had Salmon, Avacardo, Tomato, Toast, and most importantly - strong coffee for breakfast, the Sun gleaming in through the open ports. Paddle board exercisers were navigating around the lake and the Guy with the Dog was returning to his boat, again.

Best time to be at the dock was between 10:30 and 12:30 as the tide would be coming out and it would be easier to hold station with the tide on the bow rather than on the stern. We opted to visit the Pump out near Smokers Park (West side of New River) and called the New River Dockmaster to check that it was working and available, it was. So we headed out of the Lake around 9:45.

The wind was higher today, and the tide was still flooding as we came along side Smokers Park, but Peggy did a great job of stopping the boat within inches of the pilings. I was able to step ashore and secure a midships line to a dock side cleat and a bow line to another.

Peggy started to put a snack together while I setup the Pump out. With the hose attached to our adapter screwed into the Waste Port on the Port side of the boat, I headed up to the park's exercise area where the Pump control timer is located and set the time for 30 mins.

Back to the boat I operated the pump out valve but no suction - dang - probably someone has left a valve open on one of the other pump out stations. So I set off to walk the docks - but none found. I add another 15 minutes to the control timer as I pass it on the way back to the boat. Still no vacuum. Time to call the dockmaster.

The New River Dockmasters office is very responsive, I had to leave a message but they answered the 2nd time and had a guy come out to the pump out. Turns out the system is due a rebuild and has to have a vacuum leak manually held closed to facilitate the pump out. Once that was taken care of we easily pumped out the holding tank, cleaned up and had a snack.

Listening to the radio and watching the boat traffic head up river, we knew there was a hold up at the FEC bridge as it was closed for a Brightline Train, so we decided to stay tied up at Smokers park till the bridge reopened. Once we heard the boats that were waiting in line report on the radio that they were passing the FEC bridge, we cast off from the park and headed up towards 3 Avenue Bridge. They reported back that a large vessel was outbound, and they were going to wait for it to get past Andrews before starting the lift, we had no problems holding station and the the 90' vessel passed us Port to Port.

As soon as we were past 3rd Ave bridge, called Andrews for an opening, but we could see that the FEC bridge had gone down again - they must be getting close to their limit of 60mins in any 2 hour period. We held station for a while, but it became obvious that this was going to be a longer delay. So we moved over to the East bank of the New River and tied up temporarily. I reported to Andrews what we were doing just so that they didn't think we were dropping our request for an opening. 

The FEC bridge was down long enough for me to strike up a conversation with a tourist family that admired the boat and asked us about the Iguana population. After nearly 30 minutes the FEC bridge started to open and we cast off just in time to go under the opening Andrews Avenue Bridge.

From there it was a simple motor up the remainder of the river, turn right at the Fork and head back to the dock. Peggy is getting really good at coming alongside our dock, I was able to step off and start swinging the boat around for our next trip. 

It took about 25 minutes for us to unload the boat and take the truck home.

A short sail, but better than staying home any day!

See you on the water.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fuel Tank Cover

Sunbrella Fuel Tank Cover

On longer trips, we carry spare fuel for the Engine and Generator in portable tanks secured to the Starboard Lifeline Stanchions, To Secure the Tanks, I tie them down with a line to a horizontal Stainless Tube that runs between two of the stanchions. It's a pain to tie and untie the lines in order to use the tanks and they should really be covered.

So, armed with some old Sunbrella from the remants of our Sail cover no longer required.

The Diesel Tanks are typical 5 gallon, stubby rather than the taller models. Eximius holds 25 gallons and that's enough for about 33 hours at 3/4 Gallon per hour, our typical consumption at 5 knots under motor, or 166 miles. 

We use the plan of 1/3 out, 1/3 return and 1/3 reserve, so that gives us an outbound range, under motor, of 55nm. That's about the distance to Bimini from our dock.

When we go to the Bahamas, we carry an Extra 10 Gallons in 2 tanks on deck.

We also carry 5 Gallons of Gasoline for the Generator, that's enough to run the AC for a couple of days. Of course, we only run the Genny if it's hot and we're at Anchor. If we're sailing we use the Wind powered AC unit ;).

I used the template concept. Using tape over along the seams of the Diesel Can, then Basting Tape and Template material in 3 pieces: Side, Front (spout), Back (handle). 

For small designs like this, I use Builders Tyvec fabric for my templates, it's a lot cheaper than the Dura Skim, but it's nowhere near as easy to use. I find that Dura Skim is much nicer to work with and have several yards of it ready for when I make our new Dodger & Bimini bridge piece.
Here's the first cover, the tube is just a piece of Aluminum tubing to mimic the Stainless tube on the boat.

The Straps are left over from when I made the Outboard Cover a few months ago. They are sewn to the back face of the cover at an angle which eases the turn around the tube, seems to work ok.

Inboard view of the cover and straps.
The straps are connected with a re-purposed two piece buckle from an old life jacket.

FYI, before tossing out any old jacket, backpack, life-jacket, or anything with a re-usable Zipper, Buckle or Strap, I cut them off and put them in my 'One Day I'll use that' box'.

Time to make a cover for the Gas tank. I'll follow the same design.

Sty tuned.

Five Gallon Gas Can

Fillament Tape applied to center seam and corners (on one side as I mirror the end templates.

I know, it looks like denim, it's just the light.

This is the handle end piece, mirrored.

Yellow line are transferred from the edges of the cleaned up template

Red lines are with 1/2" seam allowance.

FYI, I gauge the seam allowance with my thumbnail, consistent and really ease, just put my thumb cuticle inline with the yellow line then mark the seam line with a chalk next to the tip of my thumb.

Spout end following the same technique.

All four pieces marked up[, cut using my hot knife and ready to sew.

Ready to start sewing, threads restrained using one of my magnetic thread restraints.

The two pieces are placed outsides together.

Sewing sequence is.
All four Corners up to the angled section
Sew the straps onto one of the side pieces.
Then the two pleats in the handle end.
Next, sew 4 angled seams.
Finally, sew the bottom hem all the way around.

Gas Can Cover complete with Securing Straps & Buckle.

I'm really pleased with how these turned out. There's enough slack in the jackets to allow for a bit of tank expansion rather than be to tight and split a seam.

I used Profilen thread, my first choice for any outdoor sewing projects.

See you on the water.


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Pedestal Cover

Making a Pedestal Cover

The Instrument Shelf on the Pedestal is a custom job that I completed in year 1 of owning Eximius - details here.

It's very convenient as it not only holds the Chart Plotter, Depth display unit and the Wind Instrument, but it's also handy to clip info sheets close at hand when at the wheel. It also acts as a handy hand hold when moving around the pedestal to or from behind the wheel.

The wheel is 41" diameter. The outcome is that there is not an off the shelf pedestal cover made for out boat, so we have a compass cover (shown in the pic), a cover for the depth instrument holder & chart plotter holder and another for the wind instrument.

None of them offer any cover for the pedestal or wheel, so we have to do clean up often. Hence reason for making a new Pedestal Cover.

Step 1. Guesstimate the amount of material required.
We took the general measurements for a cover and figured we would need several pieces.
  •  Front Piece: From the top of the Instruments, down in front of the shelf, snug up close to the pedestal guard (that's the vertical stainless steel tube structure  to which the wires are tie-wrapped) and down to the base of the pedestal.
  • Aft Piece: From the top of the wheel, down the aft face of the wheel and then down to the foot of the pedestal. It would have a vertical zipper from the top of the wheel all the way down it's length.
  • 2 Side Pieces: These would extend from the top center of the instruments on the shelf and reach down to the foot of the pedestal, connecting to the Aft Piece and the Front Piece.
The bottom of the cover would have a sewn in shock cord to close up the bottom around the pedestal.

It might work out that the side pieces would only extend from the shelf down and that a separate 'Top Piece' would extend over the shelf and instruments, joining the Front, Aft and 2 Side pieces. That decision will have to wait till we make a template out of Dura Skrim patterning material. I also have some Tyvek House Wrap that can also be used for patterning but prefer the Dura Skrim as the transparency is useful in allowing view of what is beneath the template material.

The rough measurements show that I'll need about 6 yards of 48" material. I already have 3 yards, so just need to order another 3. But will wait until we have made the pattern, too much material is OK, but not enough is pain.

And now some good news!

A sailing buddy gave me a box of canvas (Unlikely Sunbrella as it is faded on the outside surfaces.) that was left over / removed from a friends boat and too much to deal with at the flea market. Bonus! It included an old dodger & bimini that was failing (not UV thread). I was able to salvage a 50" piece of YKK Zip #10 in great shape and quite a bit of the material that is clean.

We went down to the boat and used the Sailrite technique to make a template for the cover. I made the template in 4 parts.

  • 1/2 the wheel - Starboard side only
  • Starboard Side Piece
  • 1/2 the Aft piece (stbd side only)
  • 1/2 the top piece (stbd side only)
Brought them home and cleaned up the edges, laid them out on the material and marked the edges + 1/2" for the hems. I did make a mistake with the center part of the wheel where the zipper would be installed. The Sailrite video showed the need to add a 2" center piece between the port and starboard segments of the section that covers the wheel, ie. 1" to each side down the middle, for the zip. I added 2" to each segment, so the wheel cover is 1" wider than it should be. You would have to know in order to criticize the finished product.

Sewing the zip was a breeze thanks to the Sailrite video and the result looks great. Sewing the segments together was easy too. I used Profilin Clear thread, that will probably last longer than the pedestal cover. I did not sew the bottom hem and the shock cord before taking the cover down to teh boat and checking that everything was ok. It was, but while there, I marked the hem in a slightly better position than when making the templates. Back home I quickly marked up the hem and shock cord lines, 10 minutes work with my machine and it was all done.

We took it down to the boat and it fit really well, it will not blow off if it's zipped up (down, as the zipper starts closed at the top and open at the bottom) 

When I feel like blowing the money, I may remake it in Sunbrella (sans the 1" error) but it should last a few years. Here's some pics.

I know, it looks weird - but then it covers our weird pedestal and wheel. We get really heavy rain down here in South Florida, so I raised the front bottom end.

Onto the next project.

See you on the water.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

New Sewing Tips

Tip #1: Goodwill Stores

I needed some denim material for some fender covers.  A trip to Goodwill and the purchase of a few
pairs of Fat Boy denim jeans provided enough material for 4 fender covers. After cutting and sewing the material into shapes it was easy to make new fender covers.

Tip #2: Magnetic Thread restraint

I learnt from the Sailrite website about holding the upper and lower threads during the first few stitches to make sure that neither get pulled out. They showed a solution of using a Quarter ($0.25) with a piece of basting tape to hold it to the surface of the machine base trapping the threads.

Well that works, but far from ideal. A better solution is a round magnet (about the size of a Quarter) covered in leather with about a 1/2" overlap. This allows an easy way to sweep the threads away from the sewing point and capturing them between the leather and the machine base. After the first few stitches, just pickup the covered magnet. I keep two of them near the machine - the 2nd is for when I have a bunch of material that won't fit between the threads if held by just one magnet. I use the 1st magnet to hold down the lower (bobbin) thread and the 2nd magnet to hold down the upper thread passing the thread over the material.

Oh! Tip #3: Guess where I got the leather from?
Same place I get the denim. ๐Ÿ˜Š

To make the thread restraint, simple find a suitable magnet (Amazon has them) and a piece of leather about 3" x 1.5". Fold in half to create a square. Sew from the folded edge about 1.25", rotate the square by 90ยบ and sew a 2nd edge to form a pocket a little bigger than the magnet. Insert the magnet (Raise the foot out of the way, lower it after magnet is in it's pocket. Rotate the square another 90ยบ and sew back to the folded edge. Include a couple of reverse tack stitches at the start and finish. Trim off the excess leather. All done

Here's how I use them.


See you on the water.