Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Replacing the Rub Rail on C34

Replacing the Vinyl insert Rub Rail 

At sometime in Eximius' past, it had a crunch on the Stbd side sufficient to crack the gel coat above the rub rail and to totally disfigure the profile of the Aluminium Rub Rail extrusion. We added to that when we bumped the Stbd Quarter of the hull against a concrete dockside while trying to avoid an unexpected out flow from a Fort Lauderdale Pump station on the New River just downstream from Andrews Avenue Bridge two years ago.

We left the repair until our planned haul out as it would be much easier with the boat out of the water than trying to do it in a dingy at the dock. 

The vinyl insert is secured to the boat by insertion into an Aluminum extrusion around the entire boat about 4" below the deck on the outside. 

The extrusion is secured with #10 pan head screws that just go into the side of the deck, but also a Pan head bolt about every 12" that has nuts on the inside of the hull, they are part of the deck to hull joint. 

Removing the vinyl rub rail was easy: Just remove the two 1" screws that hold the rubber strip where the two ends join at the center of the transom and then teasing out the ends with a screwdriver and then pulling the rubber strip out, it's about 70' long! (In our case, it was in two pieces as it was broken at the stern quarter right on the corner of the transom) When the first damage occurred, we don't know but when it happened, the owner decided to Glue the vinyl insert to the aluminum as it would no longer 'clip' into the upper and lower edges. We found out when removing the vinyl rub rail.

This pic shows the where I cut out the piece of Aluminum before cleaning up the surface and before chamfering the holes to allow decent sealing where the screws secure the extrusion to the sides of the deck.

I used a 4 1/2" cut off wheel to cut the extrusion on either side of the damage, that was about 2' long.

In this case, I had to remove the vinyl covered piece of plywood that covers the underside of the lamp valance in the aft berth. It's just three 2 1/2" SS screws.This pic shows the where I cut out the piece of Aluminum before cleaning up the surface and before chamfering the holes to allow decent sealing where the screws secure the extrusion to the sides of the deck.

I used a 4 1/2" cut off wheel to cut the extrusion on either side of the damage, that was about 2' long.

I ordered the Vinyl rub rail from Catalina Direct - $248. And, when I found the damaged extrusion and the glued attempt to fix it, I had to order a 6 1/2' piece of the Aluminum extrusion - $31 plus a bunch of shipping, but no getting around it. An expensive bump!

With the rubber rail removed, and the aluminum cut out, it took about 30 minutes up and down a ladder trimming the new piece of the metal extrusion to fit the gap and get the holes drilled to line up with the original.

I used Butyl tape to seal the holes and Peggy helped at the top of the ladder while I secured the nuts onto the pan head screws inside the aft berth. 

When it came to installing the new Vinyl, that's when it got tough! 

I anticipated that the vinyl might have curl memory as it arrived in a coil about 18" in diameter, so I planned to uncoil the rub rail vinyl and secure it to the boat at each stanchion with a tie wrap overnight in order to remove the curl. It's much more flexible than that, and there was really no need to unroll it. Remember that I'm doing this in South Florida in January with temps around the 70ºs.

Starting at the center of the transom, I worked at getting the vinyl inserted into the aluminum for about 90 minutes and only getting the port side and the bow done and my hands warning me that they were done too! Then I figured out how to do it easily! Dang!

To insert the vinyl rub rail into the Aluminum extrusion, simply lay about a foot of the lower edge of the vinyl into the metal rail, don't worry about trying to get the lower edge into the extrusion profile, then push down on the top of the vinyl and get about an inch or so of the top inserted. Lubricate the top edge of the vinyl with liquid soap and then hold the top edge of the vinyl about 1" off the metal rail about about 3 inches away from where the top of the vinyl is already inserted. Now press the top edge of the vinyl with a plastic handle (I used an old chisel) at about 45º off vertical, such that the vinyl bends outward. In doing so, the lower edge is forced into the lower part of the extrusion, and the upper edge pops into the upper part. If I had to do it all over again, it would take more time to move the ladder around the boat than it would take to insert the rub rail!

In order to get the two ends of the vinyl rub rail to meet nicely near the center of the transom, I left about 2" in excess at the start, then when I had completed the insert all around the boat, I trimmed the other end so that it was close to the center line. After drilling holes for the only 2 securing screws, I trimmed the vinyl so that the ends would butt nicely once the screws were holding it in place.

The whole job took about 4 hours, including cleaning out the years of salty crud that had accumulated under the vinyl rub rail. The original was Tan colored, but the replacement was Grey (my choice) and now I have about 10', not sure exactly, left over. But I hope we never have to replace it!

We could have just replaced about 8' of the original in order to repair the damage we caused, but the vinyl looked original, 30 years old and the lady deserves some fresh make up.

See you on the water.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

1st Haul Out - Part 4

Completing the Rudder Bearing Repair.

As mentioned previously, the lower bearing of the Rudder had slop that was reported by the Surveyor when we purchased Eximius in 2015. We dropped the rudder carefully when the boat was hauled out last week and now it's time to complete the Rudder Bearing Repair.

Original plan was to complete the repair while the boat was in the crane straps during preparation for launch, however, after reading the instructions for the repair over several times, I did not feel comfortable trying to get everything back together when we were expecting to put the boat back in the water. The risk of something taking longer than expected was pretty stressful.

So we bit the bullet and had the crane come over and lift the boat so that we could replace the rudder and complete the repair.

Now to describe the repair.

Only the lower area of the rudder shaft housing was worn, there was basically no movement of the rudder post at the top of the rudder shaft housing.

This pic looks pretty simple. That's a bit misleading. The post passes up through the housing, the rudder post stuffing joint and the rudder steering quadrant, none of which are shown in this pic.

This describes the form of the repair. Basically, an Epoxy/Silica/Graphite mix is injected into the gap between the rudder post and the rudder shaft housing.

Step 1 is to remove the rudder, we did that during the haul out before the boat was lowered onto blocks. That gave me the opportunity to repair some damage to the bottom of the rudder that occurred when we went aground in Biscayne Bay last year.

With the rudder out of the boat, the damage repair was easy, just grind away to a solid depth and then fill with epoxy and filler, the area was too small to need much glass. Then the rudder was primed ready for re-inserting into the rudder housing.

The repair kit instructions required that the rudder post be clean, free of any burrs or 'divits' and then waxed. So I used 1200 grit wet and dry paper to clean up the rudder post and felt that it was in good shape.

Step 2 was to Wax the rudder post. I measured the depth of the rudder shaft housing and the depth to the holes drilled in the housing. The holes are about 5" above the lower edge of the shaft housing. So I applied solid wax on the lower 10" of the rudder post. I was concerned that when the rudder was being re-inserted, that the wax would make it awkward to handle. For that same reason, I did not apply Anti Fouling bottom paint to the rudder except for the part that would be out of reach when the rudder was installed.

Here's a pic of the one of the holes drilled in the rudder shaft housing, there are 3. It was really awkward getting into that area in order to apply the epoxy/silica/graphite mixture, but it worked.

Once everything was back together, I spent another 2 hours aligning the wheel so that a wheel spoke was vertical when the rudder was dead amidships. Peggy was watching the position of the rudder as I made multiple adjustments to the wires from the steering wheel to the steering quadrant.

The new flax insert into the stuffing box seems very well compressed, so I really hope we have minimized the risk of leaks from the top of the lower part of the rudder shaft housing.

Lessons learnt: Double check everything before re-inserting the rudder. Get new Bolts and Nuts for any that seem corroded, have a Car Jack handy for lifting the rudder up into the housing. And wear long sleeves, my arms are pretty scratched up from snagging the steering wires while replacing the bolts in the steering quadrant. And - Don't even think of doing this while hanging in the crane straps, The epoxy mix requires 8 hour to cure.

Outcome: The wheel feels much better, less sloppy and is now nicely aligned. I'll have to do a bit of ropework on the wheel to identify the centered rudder position.

See you on the water.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

1st Haul Out - Part 3

We have been balancing working on the boat and spending quality time with our Grand Daughter and with trying to avoid sitting in going nowhere traffic at 5pm each day. So progress is not as fast as originally planned, but then I'm always the optimistic.

Today's big project was getting the Rudder re-installed, it went well but with a minor delay.

The marina team re-positioned the boat stands before we got down to the boat today around 10:45, so we quickly set to work sanding the bare patches previously covered by the stands, ground out the blisters we found and washed them out. We'll let them dry out overnight and apply resin tomorrow.

Around 1:30 today, the Marina crew stopped by and asked if we could be ready to re-install the rudder early, like in the next 20mins! I was confident that we had everything ready, even if we had just painted the parts of the rudder that would be difficult to reach once the rudder was back in place.

We quickly cleared up our tool bags and boxes around the boat so that the boat lift could surround our boat. I moved the truck out of the way and just as promised, they arrived to pick the boat up.

Plan was to raise the boat high enough in order to get the rudder post inserted into the rudder post tube in the bottom of the boat. As it would be inserted, they would have to pause to allow me to put the Steering quadrant over the rudder post inside the boat before the rudder was fully inserted.

That went perfectly to plan! then, as quickly as they arrived and put the straps around the boat's belly to lift her up, they lowered her back down and re-positioned the boat stands before removing the straps and driving the crane away.

Then I realized that I had not put the Rudder Post Stuffing cap onto the post prior to the Steering quadrant! Dang!!!!

Solution? I lowered the rudder to the ground, that left enough gap at the top of the rudder post to remove the steering quadrant and install the rudder post stuffing cap.

Deep Breath! all is ok.

Having fixed that little issue, I set about reconnecting the steering cables to the steering quadrant and securing the Emergency Tiller Cap at the top of the rudder post which actually stops the rudder falling out of the boat.


Planing to get the rudder re-installed was a stressful process, so getting it taken care of was a big relief. I spent a short while re-connecting the steering cables to the quadrant and bolting the emergency tiller cap in place. Then a quick cleanup of the cockpit and around the boat, we were ready to head home and avoid the 5pm traffic

Well! Nearly! It seems that the Turnpike and I95 both get blocked every day around 4:30, patience ruled the day and we made it home safely. Time for a Shower, Dinner and a glass of wine!

Making progress.

See you on the water - next week!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Whole Boat Filter

The fresh water plumbing on Eximius is old. If it were copper pipe, that would not be an issue, but it's plastic hose, aged, can't see through it even though it's supposed to be transparent, and the Filter is from the dark ages. Time to re-plumb the Water works.

We installed a new Galley Sink Faucet, but in the process had to change out the fittings where the faucet attached to the Hot & Cold water hoses. It seemed that every connection that I touched started to leak!

And that water strainer! Yuk!

Looking for a replacement water filter online it cost $47.99 and I could buy a pretty decent water filter for the same price.

I decided to go with this product. It's an Under sink filter but is actually $10 less than the strainer, I guess it's because it does not have the word 'Marine' or 'Boat' in the product title.

The guys at Lowes were really helpful and we figured out what fittings to use to convert the filter to the 1/2" hose barbs that will connect to the boat plumbing.

While in there, I also replaced those awful water tank selector valves with Ball Valves.

1st Step was to cut out all of the hoses from the existing system, leaving just the Tank Supply lines from the Midships and Aft Water tanks.

Next, time to install the filter housing. It fits just behind the outboard edge of the Hot Water Tank on the bulkhead between the galley and the salon dinning seating.

Here you can see the Drinking Water Filtration system covered in an earlier blog post.

I know, it looks grotty down there.

The hose that goes off to the right connects the Midships Fresh Water Tank to the Vent Stanchion on the Starboard side deck.

The Yellow foam on the right is additional Fridge/Freezer insulation applied by a previous owner of Eximius

The ply board on the lower right is dirty, it cleaned up a bit, not much, really needs a paint job - one day when I have a can of white paint open!

Here's a schematic of the Fresh Water System.

The physical installation is pretty much similar.

There's a 3 port Cold water manifold made from 3 Nylon T connectors and hose clamps. The Selector Ball Valves are connected to a Nylon T Connector.

The New Filter is connected before the Pump so that all of the Fresh Water supply to all of the faucets is filtered.

Installation complete.

The left hand selector valve controls water flow from the Midships Tank, the right hand selector valve controls the water flow from the Aft Tank

The new ball valves make turning the water supply on and off a breeze, much easier than the old mis-matched valves.

The Blue and White ring wrenches are for the two filter types.

Spare filters are kept in the under seat locker in the Aft Berth.

The Cold water supply manifold is simply Barbed Hose T Connectors with a really short piece of hose between each.

The white hose on the lower right is the cold water supply for the bathroom.

It took about 2 hours to re-plumb the fresh water system. I did not replace the hoses to the bathroom or from Midships and Aft fresh water tanks.

And here's the final result!

We replaced both the Drinking Water faucet and the Galley Sink Water Faucet - they were only about $30 each from Amazon.

Very pleased with the result of this plumbing re-work, the flow has increased at all of the faucets, including the Sink Faucet in the bathroom. So having more, easy control of the galley sink water flow will help save water.
And they look really good!

See you on the water!


1st Haul Out - Part 2

Made progress on several fronts.

We started the Sanding of the below water line paint, found several hundred tiny blisters, most less than the size of a pinky fingernail. They should just sand out and get painted.

Biggest issue was finding a crack above and just forward of the cutlass bearing support, the crack appears on both sides of the skeg but I think it's easily solved.

Plan is to grind away the area each side of the crack, and layer in several stranded glass sheets with epoxy resin before priming and painting.

Here's the Port Side of the crack with the surrounding area ground away.

There's signs of an earlier repair (that white strip from the underside of the skeg up along the crack.

There are voids where the area was not filled correctly, could have been during manufacture, but the crack looks very recent.

Here's a view from underneath. The crack is clearly visible and the voids also.

Plan is still the same, fill the voids with epoxy resin, then build up the surface with glass fiber cloth spanning the crack.

I dug in a bit further to make it easier to fill the voids. I used the West System epoxy and really forced the resin inside the open crack and into the voids.

Voids filled as best I could, I then ground away the excess resin & filler so that I could layup the glass fiber.
Once ground down, I cleaned the area again with dewaxer and then layed up 6 layers of glass cloth. That pretty well brought the surface close to the normal surface level.
 I used my glass roller to squish out any air bubbles in the glass cloth/resin.

Once the resin was set, I sanded again to smooth out the area, then cleaned and applied some more filler to bring the surface back to it's correct profile. The glass cloth and resin spanned the crack on both the sides and underside.

Primed and ready for AntiFouling paint. Notice that I tied terry cloth towels around both ends of the cutlass bearing and kept them in place during all of the sanding and painting, I just did not want to get any dust, resin drips or paint onto the ends of the cutlass bearing.

It's ready for paint, and end of Day 7

So far:

  • Skeg Crack repaired
  • New Air Conditioning Raw Water Thru Hull installed
  • Hull blisters opened, dried, sealed, faired, and primed.
  • Rub Rail extrusion removed
  • Rudder damage repaired & Primed
  • Starboard side hull 1st Poly Strip application
  • Prop & Shaft Polished.
  • New Shaft Zinc installed.
Still to do:
  • Replace damaged Aluminum Rub Rail by Stbd Gate Stanchion
  • Complete the A/C Raw water plumbing upgrade (connect to new Thru Hull)
  • Re-position the Galley sink drain Sea Cock (to make it easier to operate)
  • Prep the Rudder post tube for the Rudder Bearing Repair Kit install 
  • Replace the Rudder
  • Paint below the waterline with Pettit Ultima SR 60 Coat #1
  • Paint below the waterline with Pettit Ultima SR 60 Coat #2
  • Install the new Rub Rail rubber extruision
  • Remove the damaged White Waterline Vinyl stripe
  • Apply new White Waterline Vinyl stripe
  • Rebuild the Rudder control steering quadrant and setup Rudder & Wheel for correct Center.
  • Install New Dry Bilge System
  • Buff & Polish hull above the waterline
  • Prep the boat for splash, Wednesday Jan 31st at 07:30 

See you on the water.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Dropping the Rudder

If you own a sailboat, then you know how big the rudder is, it's always bigger when you take it off the boat!

We had to drop the rudder in order to fix the rudder bearings that cause a small amount of rudder wobble.

While the boat was out of the water during the Survey, 31 months ago, the Surveyor commented that we had a bit of slop in the rudder but nothing serious. I decided to fix that during the next haul out (now).

The Rudder is taller than the gap between the hull and the ground when the boat is on blocks, and I did not know the dimensions.

Here's the rudder dimensions. I'm guessing the rudder weighs about 50-60lbs it could be more if I'm boasting.

We had to have the boat yard leave the boat hanging in the crane straps while I freed the bolts that held the rudder in place, that took over an hour, but with the help of an impact driver I was able to get them out with a few minutes of hang time left.

The pic shows the rudder after repairing the lower edge that was damaged during a recent grounding and after it's 1st of 3 coats of primer.

Here are the rudder details.

1987 Catalina 34
Tall Rig Fin Keel  #463
Rudder Dimensions

Total Height of Rudder from Post top to lower tip of rudder: 87.25”

Top of Post  to upper surface of Rudder: 36”

Top of Post to forward most edge of Rudder: 44.5”

Post center to Aft Top Edge of Rudder:16.5”

Post center to Fwd top edge of Rudder:8”

With boat on Blocks

Height of Fin from Ground: 8.5”

Height of bottom edge of Rudder Post Tube to Ground: 68.5”

Fin Clearance from Ground required to remove rudder : 87.25-68.5-8.5=27.25”

So, in order to drop the rudder,  the Keel has to be 27.25” inches above the ground  - or – about a 30” hole beneath the Rudder.


Monday, January 15, 2018

1st Haul out Day 1

Getting to the Marina

We had planned on getting Eximius hauled out for various jobs that needed the boat high and dry. Our choice of Marina was made after asking many of the HISC club members about their experience at the various DIY marinas in South Florida. IMHO Playboy Marina came out tops, and it had the advantage that it's located only 90minutes from our dock.

We visited the Marina several weeks ago to find out the details of what's allowed to be done and what protocols needed observing. Most of the protocols involve keeping the Marina clean and environmentally healthy.

We left our truck at the house where we keep the boat,  and headed down at 8:30am. We had forgotten that the bridges would not lock down as it is Martin Luther King's day. We made a leisurely motor down to Port Everglades and had to slow down due to arrival too early. Lisa from the Marina called my mobile phone and advised that we could get there early as they were ready and waiting. So we pushed the throttle forward as we were 20 minutes away and opposite the Port Everglades Port Authority building. We got to the marina at 10:25.

The arrival team easily guided us into the crane slings. FYI, if you're going to get hauled there, have Stern lines ready, they won't use bow or center lines, just stern lines. We had a fender out on each side, but the crane out point is very protected from North and West Winds like today.

As they hauled the boat out, Peggy watched while I completed paperwork in the office.

Top on my list of projects was the drop the rudder so that we could install the Catalina Direct Rudder bearing that would eliminate the slop in the rudder post. I spent 75 minutes working inside the aft locker taking out the bolts that secured the rudder post into the rudder post tubes. Most of that time was spent removing a single bolt that had corroded into the lower part of the Steering Quadrant wheel. Steel bolts in Aluminium castings never go well. By the time they were ready to lower the boat onto the blocks, I had released the rudder.

While I was up top, Peggy secured our canvas bag over the lower end of the rudder, my plan was to release the bolts and catch the rudder in the bag which was secured to the aft cleats.
It worked exactly as planned although I had issued several expletive deletives while pounding out that stubborn bolt despite that fact that I had multiple applications of PB Blaster to all of the bolts that secure the rudder post.

Relieved that I was able to drop the rudder before they blocked the boat and that saved about $200 for a reblocking fee.

Cleaning up the tools used to get the rudder out, we left the boat around 13:20 and called a Uber ride to take us back to the truck. Once back at the truck we ate our lunch sandwiches (home baked bread and turkey/salad sandwiches) and some hot thermos coffee. Then back to the Marina.

In the past, we have taken I 95 down to Griffin road and then Griffin all the way East as far it goes. But the Uber driver returned us to the dock via I595, I95 Broward Blvd. A much better route. So we took that route back to Playboy Marina.

Back at the boat I started to make progress on the various projects. 1st was to clean the hull where the Crane Slings had prevented the arrival team from pressure washing the hull, then clean out the gap between the rudder and the keel stub, not sure if there's a special name for that part of the hull. Then drill the hole for the new Thru Hull in the bow.

On the inside of the boat, I prepared the inside area around the new thru hull hole using my Vibro tool and a carbide tip. It took about 15 minutes to get a nice clean surface that the new Thru Hull backing plate will be glassed to. Next it was onto the old raw water hose from the old thru hull under the bathroom sink. The middle of the 3 old thru hulls supply the drain for the Shower Sump, the Raw salt water for the head flush system (which we do not use, we flush with fresh water) and the Air Conditioning raw water. By removing the A/C raw water hose it simplifies the plumbing substantially. The new thru hull will supply raw water to the A/C pump.

It was nearly 15:30, and seemed like a long day, but I'm really pleased with Day 1 Progress. 

Day 2 will be focused on hull prep if it's dry (no rain please) otherwise it will be focused on interior projects, there's a few!

Really pleased with how things went, no nasty surprises, and the previous bottom paint held up incredibly well, no barnacles except in the gap between the rudder post and the stub keel.

Before we left the marina to head home, we met with the owners of Blown Away, fellow members from the HISC that are having several jobs done to the boat.

All set for going back down to the marina around 07:30 / 08:00 tomorrow.

Have to back my bread now!

See you on the water.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Baking Bread on the Boat

This is a long time personal goal.

I took a hiatus from baking bread, failure was part of the reason, the rest ... well, check out my blog, we've been busy and I don't even mention the other loves of my life - Peggy & our 4yr old grand daughter.

But it was time, our local store changed their bread supplies and, sorry, but their new bread sucks.

We have Kindle Unlimited, so I scraped my way through several books and came across a winner: My No-Knead Bread Cookbook: From the Kitchen of Artisan Bread with Steve
by Steve Gamelin (author), Taylor Olson (editor)
Steve's descriptions, recipes and videos are easy to follow and my first loaf was a total success (at least, in my eyes.) It lasted 4 days and was good to eat down to the very last slice. That's a huge improvement on my previous attempts, every one of them turned into a rock within 24 hours - made great toast even if they did look like a Flatbread.


Apparently that 'split' in the side was caused by 'Oven Spring' but I'll have to figure out what that is and how to reduce it, I kinda like the split.

It cuts nicely, is soft and fluffy all the way through, just enough crust although I would be happy with a bit more crunch to the crust. The white/brown swirls in the loaf are due to the recipe using both regular Bread Flour and Whole Wheat Flour, and because they are mixed in the bowl and this is a No Knead Bread, the two flours are not completely blended. In my next loaf, I'll blend the flours before adding them to the mixing bowl.

The recipe is Steve's Honey Whole Wheat Bread (Bread Pan) and requires the oven to get up to 400ºF and I'm not sure if my boat's oven can do that. It only needs to bake for 40 minutes, just enough time to enjoy a tot of rum.

For my next attempt, I'll use his Honey Whole Wheat Bread (PMDO) (Poor Man's Dutch Oven)

If you see me on the water, I might have some bread to share.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Alternate Drive

The Wrong Drive Belt

We missed the 2017-2018 New years Eve Cruise due to a squeal from our Alternator (Here's the article about that) Short version was that we were towed from the Lake Boca Anchorage back to our Dock in Fort Lauderdale.

This post will hopefully be helpful for others that have little experience with Boat Diesel Engines, like us, even though we are climbing up that learning curve rapidly.

Background to the problem.

Over the past few months we have noticed a few odities when the engine on Eximius is running, here's some of them:

  • Engine hunting - RPM change briefly
  • Alternator shutting down - charge rate drops to zero
  • Digital Alternator charging indicator shows charging rate changing rapidly, varying by as much as 30Amps.
And the most recent:
  • Horrendous Squeal from the Alternator
  • Alternator Drive pulley too hot to handle.
The earlier issues were leading me to suspect the Alternator Regulator. When we purchased Eximius, it had two Regulators mounted in the Aft berth (very close to the engine) Both were by the same manufacturer and until I installed a new Alternator last May (2017) I thought that the smaller of the two Regulators was not connected. During the Alternator install, I found from tracing the wiring, that the Smaller regulator was in fact the one connected to the Alternator. The other is connected to the Digital Battery monitor at the Nav Station, but not to the Alternator. After some research, I discovered that the 2nd Regulator was actually a Stand by in case the main failed, however the Main was never attached to the Alternator so the system has been running off the Standby Alternator since we have owned the boat. Confused yet - think how I had been.

The Main Regulator is the one on the left. It's connected to the Digital Battery Monitor at the Nav Station but not connected to the Alternator

The 'Stand By' Regulator is the one on the right, it's not connected to the Digital Battery Monitor but is connected to the Alternator.

My guess is that when the system was installed, the installer connected the Stand By Regulator to test it (no point in having a spare if it does not work) but never completed the job and switch over to the Main Regulator.

We're hauling out the boat next week and I had planned to re-wire the Alternator to the Main Regulator and thus determine if the Stand By Regulator was causing those first few issues.

The more recent issues (Squeal from alternator and hot drive pulley) demanded sooner action, I certainly did not want to have an Alternator problem when we are motoring to the Boat Yard trying to keep on a schedule.

Getting the Alternator Tested

The day after we were towed back to the dock, we returned to the boat to pull the Alternator so that we could get it tested. I still had the old Balmar 75Amp Alternator sitting in my Garage, so I took both of them down to Lauderdale Battery & Electric to get them tested. In the meantime, I contacted 
Compass Marine, that's where I purchased the CMI 100Amp alternator and they were very confident that the bearings would be fine.

This video shows the testing of the CMI 100Amp Alternator. Greg, the tech, wound the load up and the Alternator pumped out 140Amps and as quiet as a mouse! Absolutely no squeal. I asked Greg if he would inspect the Belt for damage, as I pulled the Belt out of my bag and he immediately commented that 'That's the Wrong Belt!' 

When we purchased Eximius, I started to put together spares to carry on the boat, including spare Fuel Filters, Oil Filters, Air Filters, Zinc, and Alternator Belts - I took the info off of the original Belt and purchased two spares, yes, they were on the boat when we had the squeal, but I honestly thought that it was the bearings as the squeal was sooooo loud! But now I found that the belt was not the right size for the Alternator - It had a 1/2" Pulley and the Crankshaft & Coolant Pump pulleys are 13/32"

Ok, it looks like the culprit is the Drive Belt.

As I had the old Balmar Alternator with me, I had Greg test that too, plan is to carry it as a spare and I suspected that the bearings were going on that Alternator (that's why I changed it out last May)

This Video shows the Balmar 75Amp Alternator being tested. It's not so apparent in the video, but on-site it was obvious that the bearings were squealing. Greg commented that the bearings needed replacement and that the stator might also need replacement. That should be ready for pickup on Monday, we'll carry that unit as a spare.

Back at the boat, I re-installed the Alternator but could not get the belt tension right. Everyone that I have asked has indicated that the tension should be set so that the belt could only move 1/2" on it's longest leg (that's between the Alternator and the Crankshaft pulleys)

The problem was the Bolt that secures the upper end of the Alternator Support Arm, and the spring/lock washer that was between the bolt head and the Support Arm. The lock washer had deformed and damaged the bolt head. I decided to replace the bolt, washer and add a fender washer that could be bent over the side of the support arm to lock it in place. Guys from the C34 forum suggested that I use a longer bolt and nylock nut on the back of the bolt to secure it in place and prevent loosening with vibration.

The damaged bolt is shown above the new (but same length) bolt. I'll replace the new one with a longer bolt and and Nylock nut next week.

The Fender washer will be between the spring washer and the Alternator Support Arm, that should prevent vibration from loosening the bolt and thus

After installing the new Bolt, Spring Washer and Fender Washer, I was able to tension the belt sufficient to stop the Squeal, but the belt is still under tensioned! So time to buy/make a belt tensioner.

So, to recap:

  • Charging rates change rapidly (Alternator output constantly changes)
  • Engine Hunts (Alternator load changes)
  • Squeals emit from front of alternator
It could be the drive shaft tension!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

Last Sail of the Year

What a great weekend even if it didn't end well.

Plan was to spend the weekend at Lake Boca as one of the 3 host boats for the HISC New Years Eve Cruise, tides dictated that we leave the dock before 3pm Thursday and spend the night at Lake Sylvia, then sail up to Hillsboro Inlet and motor up to Lake Boca on Friday, hang out with other boats from the club on Saturday and Raft up with the other host boats on Sunday ready for the Sunday night party. Monday we would motor back to Hillsboro Inlet, sail down to Port Everglades and motor into Lake Sylvia in order to return to the dock at high tide on Tuesday morning. That was the 'Plan'

It started well, motored down the New River and it was surprisingly busy for a Thursday, but no big deal. We anchored in Lake Sylvia around 4pm. It took two attempts to dig in the anchor, but then it was a relaxed night.  Diversion was on the East side of the lake.

We took the chance to enjoy the new TV on board, and I found my new Favorite Rum.

This will become a staple in my liquor cabinet (the cupboard just forward of the galley counter) displacing Pussers Rum  - I'll have to keep the bottle out of sight when we have visitors. It's a really smooth rum and makes a great Tot - 1part Rum, 2parts Water.

Pierre & Asa aboard Charity called and we agreed to have them raft up on our Starboard side, I think they arrived about 5:30pm. Once they were secure, they went below for dinner and we for ours. Rana - 3 Cheese Ravioli, bathed in Olive Oil & Parmesan Cheese - Delicious.

After dinner we hopped over to Charity to solve the world problems. Charity is a really nice boat, very visitor friendly and Pierre & Asa take good care of her.

Friday morning, Charity left after breakfast around 8ish. We prepped Eximius to leave before 10am just to be safe as the lake has a few skinny places near the exit, but we had no issues.

We motored out of Port Everglades. Our plan was to test the waters and if it was ok, then we would sail up to Hillsboro Inlet, if it was too rough then we would duck back into the port and motor up the ditch. It was an unusually smooth ride out of the Port Everglades channel, once clear we turned North and raised the sails, then turned East North East. Conditions were perfect! There was a large swell mostly about 5' swells with occasionally 8-10' swells, but they were very low frequency and Eximius climbed each without effort and didn't rush down the back sides. It was a beautiful sail, but it was Peggy's first in big swells and she was worried that they might get bigger. Personally I was delighted how well the boat was handling the 15-18 knot winds under a single reef and barely any heel, average around 5º.

I had hoped that we would sail towards the NE enough to easily make a tack East South East to Hillsboro Inlet, but we turned early and clawed our way East by East North East. We made it to Atlantic Pier then turned North and dropped the sails while motoring the rest of the way to the Inlet.

Hillsboro Inlet was Busy! The tide was rising and a lot of sports fishing boats were returning and a few much bigger boats were waiting to exit. The bridge opened a few minutes late because of Road Traffic, so we made a dash to keep up with the other boats. The bridge confirmed we were ok to go through and a large yacht, about 75', was going to wait for us to clear before they came out through the bridge. As we approached the bridge from the inlet, some boats were jumping the gun and exited before we had cleared the bridge. The inlet can get pretty choppy when there is a lot of traffic on the water, it got really choppy as we came through. But the boat handled it really well. A lighter boat would have had issues, but Eximius just pushed her way through the waves. My confidence in the way the boat handles grows every trip.

Once inside, we turned North up the IntraCoastal timing our arrival at Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge and Camino Real Bridge. Arriving at Lake Boca we found it was crowded, we had to eke out a spot to anchor and hope that a lot of the boats would depart before Sunset. They did! 

We had a really quiet night. Chilli for dinner and Apple Pie for desert, I couldn't find the Ssshhhh (Dairy Topping) for the pie, but it was fine on it's own. Time for a Tot before turning in for a sound sleep. It started to get colder as predicted. We had extra blankies.

Saturday morning got off to a great start, after breakfast, we tided up the cabin in anticipation of guests coming aboard later that date, then had a second Cuppa-coffee.

The boats from yesterday were all gone and the anchorage was clear, just 7 boats, mostly sail, including us and Endeavor - We tried to hale Jeff on Endeavor, but could see that he was busy working his boat - it's a Sailboat - of course he was doing work on the boat!

I decided to shoot a video and post it to Facebook, so while Peggy warmed up with her coffee, I went topsides onto the bow to scan the lake. Upon our return, I realized that the Video says we're on Lake Sylvia - Duh! It's Lake Boca!

  We wanted to take a shower before other boats arrived, so we started to run the engine - SQUEAAAAAAAL !!! Shut down the engine quickly!

I removed the engine cover (Steps) and we tried to restart again, same squeal, shut down in less than a minute. I felt the Alternator drive pulleys and they were too hot to touch, but no sign of any wear or damage to the drive belt, possible Alternator bearing failure. It could be either the Alternator (my first suspect), the Raw Water Pump (noticed a small oil leak but nothing really bad) or the Engine Coolant Pump. Removing the drive belt that unites the Crank Shaft, Coolant Pump and Alternator, I could not detect any significant wear on the belt, no obvious heat damage.

Because the Alternator shares the same drive belt as the Engine Coolant pump, we cannot run the engine without the belt, that would prevent an Alternator Seizure, but it would result in an overheated engine - much worse!

So, with much reluctance, we decided to cut the weekend and get a Tow home. This would be the first tow since we have owned a boat here in Florida. It's a 15+ mile trip from Lake Boca back to our dock in Fort Lauderdale.

I called Tow Boat US via Mobile Phone, answered right away and quickly determined that we were Boat US Members with Unlimited Towing (WooHoo!) and that there would be no charge. Past reviews of towing incidents have led me to believe that the fee normally covers from when the boat leaves the dock until it gets back to it's dock. I guessed it would be between 4 & 6 hours for us, but Tow Boats have the advantage that the bridges open on request rather than the tow having to wait till the bridge opens which can be up to 30mins per bridge down here.

Jean from Tow Boat US passed over to the local representative and Maria quickly took down our location and destination and then advised us that 'Cap't Cole' would be with us in about 20 minutes.

While waiting, I pulled up the Anchor Snubber and we prepared the boat to get underway. We soon saw a Boat US vessel on the South side of the lake and I wondered if they were looking for us. But, after contacting Boat US, they advised that he would be with us shortly, another boat had hailed him en-route to us and he was just taking down their needs before heading over to us.

Shortly after 2pm, we were attached by a bridle to the Tow boat and heading out of Lake Boca, just as we were getting connected, we saw Paul Malone arrive in his new Catamaran - very nice! But then we were underway following like a dog on a leash behind the tow boat. Cap'n Cole asked that we steer to follow him, so we manned the wheel all the way home.

The trip down the ditch was pretty much without incident, except for our speed.

Most of the trip we were doing about 6.25 knots, which is about the most we do normally through the water at 2,000 rpm.

As some of the bridges were open upon our approach, they kindly stayed open till we got there. Then Cap'n Cole throttled up to minimize the delay to the bridge closing to allow road traffic.

If you click on the picture to the left, you'll see our Speed through the water was 8.51 knots, however that was not our best speed, we touched 9.4 knots a couple of times. That tow boat has some serious power!

During the two, I put the engine in Reverse to prevent the prop spinning, I wasn't sure if that was the best option, but I did not like the prop spinning with the engine in Neutral.

Oh, that list that you can see in front of the GPS is our Bridge List, one side has the ICW bridges from Lake Boca to Port Everglades, the other has the Bridges on the New River. The Dispaly on the left show our Depth via the Garmin Echo Fish Finder/Depth meter. Our primary Depth instrument is the main display that is fed data from the Depth/Speed/Water Temperature transducer that is in a through hull inside the base of the Head Cupboard.

Ok, back to our trip home.

As we motored down the Intra Coastal, it was cold!

Peggy was all wrapped up, and she pulled a blanket off the V-berth to keep my lower half warm. It was 62º F lower when you figure in the Wind Chill - Heck! This is South Florida!

I should have put on my Foul Weather Jacket, it would keep the wind out, and my Foul Weather Pants would have made a big difference, but, as I said, Heck! This is South Florida!

We may not get Snow down here, but folks do know how to celebrate Christmas.

This cheery dock brought smiles to both of us.

Under Tow, we continued down the ICW and turned West into the New River at Sand Bar Park. Cap'n Cole announced over VHF on Channel 9 that he was headed up river with a 34' sailboat in tow.

As we had neared the New River, we heard several Boat Capn's complaining about the closures of the FEC Railroad bridge between Andrews Avenue Bridge and 7th Avenue Bridge, their complaint was the bridge was down for about 15 minutes but no trains passed over the bridge. We were approaching 3rd Avenue Bridge when two other Boat US tow boats were moving, empty, our way. Cap'n Cole decided to hand us over to one of them which meant switching the tow between the two boats. And this was going to happen between 3rd Avenue bridge and Andrews Avenue Bridge, during busy water traffic time! And both sides of the river were occupied by boats tide up to the walls. Cap'n Cole easily turned us with us turning to follow by applying appropriate rudder. Now we were facing 3rd Ave bridge. The second Boat US tow went alongside Cap'n Cole's boat and the new skipper, Cap'n Jon, passed me his bridle. We quickly swapped bridles and Cap'n Cole headed off back to the East.

Cap'n Jon turned us again once the Andrews Avenue Bridge began to open and we towed through without issue. The FEC Bridge was open, but when I checked the Time on the Digital Sign board at the FEC bridge fenders, it read "4:47" but GPS time was 4:53, perhaps it's Train Time!

As we approached our home dock canal, I pointed out to Cap'n Jon that we had to take care to avoid the overhanging trees, he considerately kept us away from the trees with Peggy at the helm while I prepped the boat to come alongside.

Cap't Jon eased the bridle as we neared the dock and Peggy was able to steer us parallel to the dock, close enough that I was able to easily step off the boat to the Dock. She Aced it!

We both thanked Cap'n Jon, and he reversed back down the canal.

Within an hour, we had unloaded the boat into the truck and were on our way home. Had we or motored back from Lake Boca ourselves, we could have made it as it was Saturday, but on Weekdays, the bridges lock down during Peak Road Traffic 16:30 - 18:00 and that would have been a challenge.

Once home, we unloaded the food, put some wine in the fridge, took a shower, and enjoyed some of our Quiche that was intended for the Party on Sunday.

The Mail had arrived in our absence, Peggy brought it in while I showered.

Included in the mail was the latest edition of Good Old Boat. I don't know what it is, but so often do we get to read a sailing magazine that has articles about the very thing that we're having an issue with at that time. Two months ago I was working on remaking a Spinnaker to fit our boat and there was an article on just that subject in the Magazine when we got home from that trip. The next month there was an article about Dry Bilges which was an issue we were dealing whith, this months Good Old Boat has an Article, you guessed, it's about 'Alternator Woes'

Despite our First Tow, the sail on Friday was Awesome! I could have kept going all the way to West End.

Sunday we went back down to the boat and removed the Alternator, then brought it and our spare Water Pump home so that I can service the pump and take the Alternator to a shop in Fort Lauderdale. I'll also take our old Alternator, think I'll carry that as a spare! Never can have enough spares.

Thanks to everyone that was involved in helping us get home, Jean & Maria from Boat US, Cap't Cole and Cap'n Jon, Jeff Miskin with advice about getting the Alternator Fixed, Chip Packard for offering to help out with Spares. And to the rest of the Members that took up the slack when we dropped out of the New Year's Eve Cruise.

I mentioned that this was the first time we have had a tow, but it's not my first ever tow!

Royal Navy Sailing Cutter
Picture from Imperial War Museum.
© IWM (A 32340)

In 1965, while at the Royal Navy Training Establishment 'HMS St. Vincent' Gosport Hampshire, I was Cox'n of a Royal Navy 32' Cutter in a Race off of the Southsea Shore. The wind was barely, and our Rudder pintle broke. We had oars and could have rowed back to the boat dock but it would have taken several hours. The Race committee tugs ended up pulling us and a couple of other boats back to base. DNF! Not a bad record - 2 Tows in 52 years!

Now to get the boat fixed in time for Haul out two weeks from today.

See you on the Water!