Saturday, August 17, 2019

Raw Toast Explosion


Exploding Bread

I have now been baking bread for just over a year and since getting the America's Test Kitchen Bread Illustrated book, my bread baking skills have risen (pun intended) greatly.

Here's a link to ATK: https://www.americastestkitchen.com

Yesterday I baked my 1st ever Soaker, Sponge, Dough bread - Whole-wheat sandwich bread (See page 209 of Bread Illustrated).

It exploded! 


This method of baking (which should not normally blow up like this)

The Soaker process seemed to go ok, although it probably had a higher hydration % (I didn't have any wheat germ and used toasted Flax Seed instead). The Sponge processing went well too (as per the book)

I followed this process when I made the dough by combining the soaker and sponge: Putting the Sponge in the mixer bowl and setting it on Low, then adding the soaker one tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Then I added the other ingredients. Finally kneading for 8 mins on med-low.  Into a greased (EVO) bowl with plastic lid to rise. It rose to the top of the bowl within 30 minutes! (15mins early) but hey, this is South Florida in Summer = Hot, Humid even with the AC running to 78º F .

Folded dough the 6 times as described, next rise, that was quick too.

Split and shaped the dough then into the Bread Pans (8.5" x 4/5") and covered with greased plastic wrap.

My oven takes a while to get to temp. So I set the oven to 350 while the final rise was taking place.

15 minutes and the bread was overflowing the pans!!! I pulled the bread from over the pan sides onto the top and pressed to seal - did not slash the dough.

Popped the pans into the oven sitting on a baking sheet - just as well

I checked the bread at 25 minutes to rotate but - Explosion!! Dough had spilt over the sides of both pans and had risen even more on the baking pan (the baking pans were hardly visible)

As I have learned, if it fails - finish the cooking - it might be salvageable.  Baked until 205ºF

Pulled out of oven, had to let them cool in the pans until set sufficiently to try removing them.

I had to  do some major surgery to get the loaves from the pan, but was successful and transferred loaves to the cooling rack.

My wife buttered a couple of pieces of the lava left overs, delicious!

This morning we had some of the bread toasted - Delicious!!! Very light, lots of reasonable sized holes  and the toasted Flax seed added flavor to the bread.

So, I'm guessing that the problem was the amount of yeast in the final dough!

The recipe on page 290 indicates 2 Tablespoons of Yeast, I'm betting that's a typo and should read 2 teaspoons!


And the good news:


 None of the dough spilt over into the oven! It was close.

And the bread in the pans looks good.

They were cojoined but none of it was burnt, a hint in the left corners nearest  to the camera.








With the excess cut crusts cut off, the bread came out of the pans in one piece, the 'open' sides of the bread were not trimmed, that's how they came out of the pan.

Size and shape were just fine. It's just odd having a loaf with no side crusts.








Not too shabby!

The loaf is very light, really light! I was expecting a rock, as I have baked a few of those over the last year or so.

But the crumb was very airy, the flax seed was we distributed, and the flavor was really much better than I expected.

Next time I'll use just 2 teaspoons of yeast and will not use Flax seed but use the suggested Wheat Germ.

Oh, what did we do with the overflowing crusts? We ate about 1/3rd of it and tossed the rest. Too much bread crumbs in my galley already.




This is not a bread I would or could make on the boat! It requires a stand mixer - don't have one on the boat - and it takes 24 hours total to make - I started my prep at 14:30 and the bread came out of the oven at 18:00 the next day!  But I must say, it is really delicious.

See you on the water - and I'll probably have Boat Baked Bread on board too!

Paul

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

DIY Spool Holder

My DIY Spool Holder

DIY Thread Spool Holder

A couple of years ago we thought of getting our boat's Dodger & Bimini replaced, but the cost was going to be over $5000 - well over! So I decided I would learn to make one myself, even then, the cost will be close to $1,000 but it would include a whole lot more features. I purchased the Sailrite's LSZ-1 Sewing machine and later the Industrial table & Servo motor - they work! After two years, the machine has easily paid for itself.

During that time my sewing kit has expanded and these recent additions have been really useful.

Rectangular Ruler


This is the ARTEZA Quilting Ruler, no, I do not make quilts. But it is a huge help when trying to measure and mark material and keep the lines straight and parallel. This is one of those tools that should have been on my shopping list much sooner.

Now it's really easy to get square corners and the correct sized hems.

This comes to hand on virtually every new sewing project.

Available on Amazon





DYI Thread Spool & Bobbin holder.

When working on a sewing project, it's an annoyance to have to wind a fresh bobbin of thread in the middle of a seam or hem. So I prepare several Bobbins from the Spool of thread and put them on my Thread holder.


This pic shows the simple DIY Thread Spool holder and the Spare Bobbin holder.

The Spool holder is a simple piece of 3/16" Steel rod bent at 45º. the length of the angled part is about 3" longer than the typical height of a Spool of Thread.

This causes the spool to rotate as the thread is pulled off, avoiding twists. I didn't remove the thread holder than came with the Sailrite table.

The smaller piece of 3/16" steel rod is straight, it holds my pre-wound bobbins to match whichever thread I'm using for the current project.

In the event of the bobbin running out, I simply use another of the prepared set. I typically have five bobbins pre-wound.


This shows the Spool holder in use.

Both the spool holder rod and the bobbin holder rods are simply inserted into 3/16" holes drilled into the table but they do not penetrate all the way through.

This took about 10 minutes to make, I simply cut the metal rod (available at most hardware stores) using an angle grinder.

This turned out to be a great improvement in thread handling. It's easy to change the spool when I need to use a different thread and the correct bobbins are always at hand.


Love my Sailrite!





Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Value of a Sailing Club

What is the Value of a Sailing Club?

Our first boat was a Catalina 250 - Swing keel water ballast 25' Trailer Sailer. We kept her on the trailer at the side of the house (it's still visible on google maps) and dragged the boat behind our F150 the 90 minutes to Black Point Marina where we would spend 2 hours rigging the boat for launch. 

After 10 years, and lots of upgrades to the boat, and pushing it even to Bimini, we would take the boat out for up to 10 days at a time, just to get the value out of the work needed to launch and retrieve the boat. But we enjoyed that boat 'Joint Decision' every trip, even when the weather went south.


I wanted us to extend our cruising area, and the 25' boat didn't do it for us. I'm 6' and needed to wear knee pads to get around inside the boat, and approaching 65 I needed a bit more comfort. We needed a bigger boat! 

After a couple of years searching the Internet looking for a new (to us) boat, I had a pretty good idea of what type of boat 'I' wanted. Peggy's 'wants' were more pricey and I knew from our first boat, that upgrades / fixes take a bite out of the budget, so I felt the need to go with the older, proven, well supported boats. Catalina yachts were at the top of my list, but there were others.

So, if we wanted to get a bigger boat, I figured we needed to be around people that had bigger boats, it's probably catching!

We joined the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club with the intention of moving up to a bigger boat. We got so much more!

The HISC is a dynamic club, they only meet monthly at a rented hall for Cocktails, General Meetings and a Sailing interests program. Typically there would be about 100 members turn up the monthly GM, and the cocktail chats often extended into the parking lots afterwards. They held a lot of events that interested both of us. Racing (not so much for us), Cruising, and Social events. 

Knowing that you only get out equal to what you put in, I jumped into the club and volunteered whenever the chance arose.

In 2015, I was assisting at the Strictly Sail Miami HISC Membership Booth with other members of the club. We had been to the SSM show for the past 10 years and knew the layout. So spending an additional day at the show was an easy decision. 

During the show, I met with another of our club's members - Tom - and he knew that I was in the market for a bigger boat. He mentioned that he had recently delivered a boat from the Bahamas to Port St Lucie that was for sale and was a great boat, a Catalina 34!

I didn't jump on it, it was not in the right price range for Peggy - too cheap - not that we had the budget for an expensive yacht, and I thought no more about it. Three months later, the owner called me and invited me to come and look at it, 'You would not be disappointed" he said. So I suggested to Peggy that we go to see the boat and make a nice weekend of it by visiting our dautghter as well. She agreed. 

We drove up to the boat and spent over an hour looking at her. 'ChrisDeek' a 1987 Catalina 34 Tall Rig Fin Keel. Then we drove to Loxahatchee, to see our daughter and grand-daughter. On the Way from the boat, I suggested that if we were to buy the boat, we should name it 'Special' but Peggy insisted that we were not going to sail around with the word 'Special' on the back of the boat - note! She did not say we were not going to buy the boat! It's a Winner!

Anyway, that's the long story about how we got our bigger boat, because we joined the sailing club and got so many points of view from other boat owners, the chance to visit their boats on the water during the many club cruises, and to confirm some of the things we needed to look for.

Joining the sailing club helped us reach our goal. But it has done so much more! Since we brought 'Eximius' (Latin for Special) home, we have really dug into our club membership. Because the club does not own a building, the fees are only $150 a year, compared to the thousands that some clubs have to charge. But the equivalent of just $3 a week it's incredible value for the money.

We participate in a sailing club event at least every month, additional socials, again at least every month, and more. The friendships we have formed over the past five years add a lot to our retirement living. When we go to the club, practically everybody knows us, primarily because we jumped into the club by volunteering. 

Now I'm the club's Rear Commodore - That's a higher rank than I had at the end of my 25 year Navy career, and that means we're on a four year commitment - Rear, Vice, Commodore, Past Commodore. But it's worth every effort. Now I'm in a position to encourage others to get more out of their sailing hobby, develop new friendships, and enjoy the camaraderie of like minded sailors.

So I suggest, if you want to really enjoy local sailing, and more, then Join a Sailing Club - and Jump In!

See you on the water. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Not the best Birthday

Birthday Weekend - cut short

We set out from the Dock Saturday Evening before 6pm to motor down to Lake Sylvia for the start of Peggy's Birthday Cruise Weekend. Plan was to anchor overnight Saturday at Lake Sylvia, then Motor out of Port Everglades Sunday Morning, Sail up to Hillsboro Inlet and then Motor up to Lake Boca to anchor overnight, Monday reverse but going from Port Everglades directly to the dock.

Weather has been steady the past few days, either storms in the morning or just after lunch, hot blue skies in between. To make sure we dined well, I made Fresh Whole Wheat Bread and a Bacon and Swiss Cheese creamy Quiche on Saturday, and we packed plenty of food, wine, rum and snacks.

Our grand daughter's other Granma was scheduled to have her birthday celebration with family on board the Jungle Queen Saturday evening - 6pm departure, family had planned to come from all over, so we contacted JQ as soon as we heard them navigate up the river on the VHF #16 and them to say hi as we passed. We often meet and pass the Jungle Queen, always courteous and their skippers know our boat by name as they do most frequent travellers of the New River. JQ agreed to say Hi which basically meant they would sound their horns as we passed. We had our little biddy horn ready too (nowhere near as loud as JQ's).

We expected to pass JQ just upstream from the Tunnel so we were prepared. As she came around the bend, they saw us and blasted their horn in a cheery melody. We reciprocated with several tweets from ours. Peggy was stood on the cockpit seat waving to everyone on JQ, we looked for our family but could not see them among the couple of hundred folks on board. But they all waved back, it was fun. But apparently, the family didn't make it to the JQ but we didn't find that out until Sunday Morning. Still, it was fun to Meet & Greet with JQ. Thanks Guys!

Lake Sylvia was not as packed as past weekends, we found a suitable anchor spot and dropped our 35lb anchor and 70' of Chain, backed down with enough speed to dig in but not enough to pull the anchor back out. 1st time! Anchor secure! It only took a few minutes to hoist our Anchor Day Mark and secure the Anchor Snubber to soften any sudden movements of the boat against the chain, not a frequent event on Lake Sylvia, but we like the quiet of the snubber compared to the crunching of the chain when we swing around due to wind or current.

The boat, Patagonia, was off our Stbd quarter, I was pretty sure they were club members but were out of hailing range. I watched the skipper inflate his dink on the foredeck, his boat was about the same length as Eximius. He put it in the water, mounted the outboard and took it for a spin around the lake. While I was making dinner - ok, serving dinner as it was the still warm Quiche - Delish! I saw them depart their boat in the dink leaving Patagonia at anchor.

We enjoyed the Quiche, some wine for Peggy and Rum for me. Weather was forecast to be quiet overnight and we ran the AC for a couple of hours before turning in for the night.

Sunday morning we realized that we (me) had left the Butter and Olive Oil at home, bummer! I had planned on making Eggs Benedict with Sausage, Tomatoes and Fried Toast for Breakfast - So we had poached eggs (egglets) sausage and Toms instead - not as fancy, but a nice breakfast. Our plan was to leave around 9am so that we were not trying to get out of Lake Sylvia at low tide - there are plenty of skinny parts both in the lake and in the canal entrance to the lake. We hoisted Anchor without seeing the crew of Patagonia nor their dinghy.

We motored out to Port Everglades, the bridge was already up for it's O'Clock opening, so I hailed the bridge to advise them that we did not require the bridge open so that they didn't hold it.
Passing under the closing bridge, we saw the new Ship USS Paul Ignatius which had only been commissioned the day before (Saturday) Very smart looking ship. As a 25 Year Navy guy, it was nice to see a really modern ship in port.

Motoring out of Port Everglades, Peggy cocked her ear at what she thought was unusual sounds on the boat, but we didn't thing much of it, depending upon the current in the river and port entrance, the engine can be under different strains each time and we often hear noises from other passing boats resonating through our hull. We should have been more mindful!

There was barely any wind and the seas were calm, so we motored out to three miles. I know, it was supposed to be a Birthday Cruise, and we were heading out for a dump! At 3.5 miles out, we dumped the tank, and re-secured the discharge valve. The wind picked up to 5knots from the East, so we actually hoisted the sails. We were managing 4+ knots through the water with under 6knots of wind, not shabby, especially as we were not working at it. The Auto Pilot was keeping course, it was a beautiful day for a sail. Then we heard the noise! a regular Screeching sound coming from the propulsion system when the engine was off and in neutral. Oh Carp! 

We discussed what it could be. It did not sound like a bag or line caught on the prop, but it did sound regular with rotation. As soon as we put the engine in gear the noise (and the prop rotation) would stop. Definitely something wrong with the shaft.

I emptied the aft berth in order to open the shaft space below, then, while I lay on the aft berth floor, Peggy put the engine in Neutral - No doubt now! The noise was clearly coming from the area of the Cutlass Bearing. NOT GOOD! Assuming it was the bearing, I did not want to run the engine and risk damaging the Bearing housing - that's big bucks. Needed a plan.

My decision was to go sailing! We could not get back to our dock until around 6pm Sunday evening due to the tides, and motoring was not an option except in an emergency. I figured that if we called for a Tow around 4 or 5 pm, we could get towed back to the dock near high tide. We could continue to sail around until 4pm - ish and then call Tow Boat US. After all, it was a beautiful day for a sail.

We turned North towards Hillsboro Inlet and Boca Inlet, just to burn some daylight. Sailing was great, Peggy was not happy - the boat is broken and we're about to spend a Boat Buck or Two on getting it fixed.

With plenty of time to think about it, my mind wandered through the process of replacing the Cutlass Bearing.

For those that don't know about Cutlass Bearings - The picture shows the cylindrical bearing housing along the lower edge of the strut through which the Prop Shaft passes. The Cutlass bearing is a tube that is lined with a rubber insert that has grooves running from each end. Those grooves allow water to cool and lubricate the shaft / bearing interface and has to be replaced every few years. (dependent upon the engine hours) We normally sail with the engine in Neutral which means the Prop is free to rotate, but it's normally silent and we are not aware of it's rotation. The pic was taken before refinishing the shaft, prop and installing the new Zinc last January (2018)

To replace the bearing requires the boat to be hauled (a diver can do it in the water, but there's not really any option to check the bearing housing for damage). Hauling the boat costs about $500 (haul, pressure wash, blocking, stands, and resplash after the repair) Once on blocks and stands, the prop has to be removed. Then using a bearing removal tool (rental and shipping) is used to extract the bearing, the same tool is used to insert the new bearing. Of course, with the boat out of the water, there are several other things that could be done to get the best out of the boat bucks, like: Prop Speed coat the Shaft and Prop, Clean and Polish the hull above the water. Our Bottom paint is in good condition so no need to repaint after just 18 months. It would probably cost about $1,000 to do the work myself, a lot more if I paid for a contractor to do it. Luckily it's all well within my skill set. The downside is that it's Summer! Doing that work in 100ºF is close to unbearable!

Meahwhile, as planned, we sailed down towards Port Everglades from North of Hillsboro Inlet, and I called Boat US on #16 at 15.25pm. After taking my details (and checking my membership and Gold Unlimited Towing) they dispatched a tow boat out to the Port Everglades entrance. Timing was perfect, their arrival would coincide with ours just inside of the PE Channel. A Cruise ship was leaving the dock, and the tow boat got us in tow before it came out of the channel. I asked Capt George to not go too fast and advised him of our nearly 6' draft and that we had a mast height of 54'. George confirmed our mast height so that we could pass under the 17th street bridge without opening. It was nearing high tide, but I was confident that we had clearance at the center of the bridge. So Capt George steered down the middle as we helmed the boat to go right down the center between the fenders, making sure not to twing the bridge lights that hang down a foot or so below the bridge center.

Tow Boat US did a great job in getting us back to the dock, timing was perfect, and our Capt was very considerate of both our speed and draft. We got alongside our dock close enough that I could step ashore and secure the boat while Capt George completed the Paper work (iPad).

As Tow Bot US headed away down the canal, we started to unload the boat and took a few minutes break to eat some more Quiche (delish even when cold). Peggy still not the happy birthday girl, I don't blame her. 

Monday morning we drove back to the boat and I used my Olympus Tough G2 camera, on the end of a boat hook, to take some videos of the Prop and shaft. FOUND IT!

The Zinc on the shaft has slid back as far as the Cutlass Bearing (the divers had left the old zinc in place when the installed the new one that is further from the Strut.

This is an easy fix!




Monday evening, the Divers went down to the boat, removed both zincs and installed a new one (I always keep spare zincs on the boat). Tuesday morning, I went down to the boat and ran the engine from slow all the way up to full throttle - no noise from the shaft! WooooHooo!

Now, all I have to do is figure out what I'm going to do to make up for Peggy's spoiled Birthday Cruise! I saved a Boat Buck (Bring On Another Thousand) 

See you on the water. - Pay attention to those weird noises!





Friday, July 26, 2019

Keeping our boat's Log in the Dark

Sailboat Log Keeping at Night.

I posted a few months ago about the new Ships Log that I created using Google Sheets, here's a link to the first of those two posts.

We've been using the Log Book for nearly six months now and have used it on several night sailings. It has worked out really well.

When keeping the Log at night, the biggest issue is being able to see the pages and write in the dark. The GPS screen and the other instruments at the helm are dimmed almost to minimum in order to protect our night vision, so using a Flash Light to illuminate the pages of the log is not an option.


I found these on Amazon and they are incredible.

The light is plenty bright enough to be able to see the Log Book Pages and the Red Light does not harm my night vision.

I routinely switch through the clicks of the pen to get to the Red Light, and when switching it off, I switch through 3 times to get to the 2nd Off setting which means one click and the light is on.

There was a concern that the Batteries might not last long enough, but we have used the Pen nearly every night during a 3 week sailing trip to keep the Log Book and to write up my blog notes (while Peggy is taking a nap). The batteries are not showing any signs of needing replacement yet. The Set of 3 came with 6 refills and 3 sets of spare batteries. The package is a ziplock type bag, so the spares stay nice and dry as well as all in one place, which is normally a problem for me, I'm not the tidiest sailor on the ocean.

Here's a link to the pen set on Amazon - Yes, I earn an amazon commission on sales from my blog, but hey, it helps me do all of these projects. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Improving Engine Access

Better Engine Access on Eximius

The Engine is located beneath the Companionway Steps on our Catalina 34. This picture shows how the steps are really in 3 pieces.

The lower two steps (that's the piece with the Documented Number) The Top two steps which are held in place by the two clips that are attached to the Companionway bulkhead.

The center piece, not really at step, more like a hood, or top cover to the engine bay.

To get access to the top of the engine, the top two step piece has to be lifted out of the way after releasing the two rubber grips where they sit on the top of the lower steps.

Then the Hood has to be lifted out. And that's the pain.

I saw where someone had put a hinge on the back of the Hood so that it could be lifted from the leading edge and tilted back to the companionway bulkhead.


Searching around I found these stainless steel hinges with removable hinge pins. They allow the Hood to be raised up and removed if needed. If I'm just checking the coolant fluid level or the Air Filter, the Hood just needs to be raised out of the way, but if I'm tensioning the drive belt, or doing an oil filter change, then the Hood has to be removed.

Hinge is really nice quality and the style keeps the Hood away from the bulkhead behind it.

Another great find on Amazon, here's a link to the hinge.


This shows the center section in the closed position.

I have installed small cleat on the front face of the panel and a Stainless Steel Strap on the bulkhead above where the panel hinges upwards - a simple line is attached to the strap and turned on the cleat to hold the panel open.




The hinge pins are held in place with ss ring pins, but I'm waiting for the Retaining Clips Stainless Steel Fixing Pins to arrive from Amazon.

Here's a pic with the Panel in the Raised position, it's a whole lot easier to swing the panel up and secure it, rather than lift it out and put it somewhere while I work on the engine.



I'll replace the plastic cleat as soon as I get the ordered handles (2 for another project)

Meanwhile, this works great. I had to replace the Alternator after a repair and while at it, I replaced the Raw water pump. Not having to deal with the big Hood Panel in the cabin or out in the cockpit made the job a lot easier. Especially as I made several trips from the Cabin to the Cockpit which would have required either balancing on the top of the engine or replacing the Hood. Being able to quickly lower the Hood in order to step out of the cabin made the work go a lot quicker and safer.

See you on the Water.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

What if the Boat Engine fails?

Planning for an Engine Failure

We rely upon our engine to get us from the Dock out to where we sail or to another dock or anchorage. Because we keep our boat over an hour from the Ocean, it's typical for our trips to start under power and navigating the New River in Fort Lauderdale, but what happens if the engine quits as we are transiting the river, passing under bridges or heading in or out of the Port Everglades inlet?

Sadly, it's from experience that we have figured out how to deal with this situation safely, so, to save you from having to make the same mistakes, here's what we have learnt.

Be prepared to tie up alongside anything! The river we transit has sides that vary in structure from home docks, other boats, concrete riversides and empty dock poles. Some of them are unsuitable for tying up just because there's nothing to tie to!

Being prepared means having lines ready to deploy, already on a cleat and Fenders ready to flip over the side in an emergency - there's no time to dig a fender out from a locker and get it secured to a cleat or line where it's needed.

So, we have a Midships Dock line setup on each side of the boat when we are transiting. The Line is coiled and laid over the Dorade in front of the Dodger. Those lines are at least 30' long.

We keep a 40 foot dockline on the cleat at the bow with the line running from the cleat, under the bow rails and back over the top. The line is secured with a slip clove hitch so that it can be quickly released and is ready to toss ashore and there is someone to grab it.

At the stern, we have another 40 foot docking line ready to deploy with a loop that we can quickly put over a cleat on either side. Again, it's secured so that it doesn't fall into the water and cause a problem by tying itself around the prop!

We have a fender on each side at the widest point of the boat (just in front of our Midships Cleat) secured in place and flipped over the lifelines so all we need do is flip it over the top and it's deployed, we have a 3rd fender jammed in place on the Port Side of the Dodger that we can quickly grab and move to anywhere it's needed. (The port side because our preferred choice is to tie up Port Side to. Of course, if we have no engine, then any side will do, but at least we know where the fender is so that we don't have to hunt for it.

We also keep a couple of older throwable cushions in the cockpit ready to use as fenders when a round cylindrical fender just won't do the job.

For those occasions when a tie up is not practical, that's happened a few times, we'll have to drop anchor. This is where local knowledge comes in. We know all of the places where we are not allowed to drop anchor due to under water lines or pipes. 

We lock all top side lockers when the boat is left at a dock, but when we are preparing to depart the dock, we unlock all of them, especially the Anchor Locker! We learn't that early on! I had gone forward to deploy the anchor and the locker was padlocked! I had to rush back, down to the cabin, get the spare locker keys and then back forwards to unlock the anchor locker! Lesson learnt! 

For the same reason, I also make sure that the tethers on the anchor are removed before we set off from the dock. 

We have our Main VHF radio on Channel #9 when transiting the river and our Hand Held VHF on Channel #16 at the same time. If we have an engine failure e call out a quick Security call on #9 in the river or #16 in the Inlet. 
eg. ""Security, Security, Security. this is the Sailing vessel Eximius, We are inbound on the New River at [Location]. We have an engine failure and are anchoring at [Location] any concerned vessels respond on Channel 9 or Channel 16."" 

We did have an engine failure as we were inbound to the 3rd Avenue bridge. Because they were opening for us, we called them on #9 and advised them that we had an engine failure and would not be able to make the opening. We tied up alongside a concrete side while we fixed the problem.

At the helm we have our Rechargeable Air Horn and pump charged and ready to sound to alert any really close vessels. 5 short blasts tends to get peoples attention even if they don't know the meaning of the Sound Signal.

Of course, we also have unlimited towing from BoatUS in case we cannot fix the problem quickly. Luckily, we have only had to use them once in 15 years, but that's another story - it's a good one.

So, be prepared and have a plan - your crew will thank you!

See you on the water.





Friday, July 19, 2019

Alternator - Internal -v- External Regulator

Alternator Failure - Updating wiring

Our Balmar 100Amp Alternator failed on July 4th. After leaving the dock, the Tach showed Zero RPM and the Analog Voltage Meter read 12.4v (ish). 
Upon arrival at the Bahia Mar, we did some fault finding, suspecting that the Field wire to the Alternator had failed, but the wiring and connectors were ok.

I removed the Alternator and took it to Fort Lauderdale Battery & Alternators on 3rd Ave just off of State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale ( Map link here).

They put the Alternator on their test bench and confirmed that there was no output. Despite the Alternator being setup for an external regulator, there appeared to be a short between the Field Terminal bolt on the back of the alt, and the surface of the regulator. They confirmed that the Regulator was fried.

So I left the Alternator with Greg to fix and it should be ready in a few days, it was - they have never failed me to live up to their word. With repaired Alternator in hand, I headed back to the boat. Thinking about it, I have a really nice Alternator with an Internal single stage smart regulator that is not used and an expensive external smart regulator that is used. But what if the external regulator failed? What would it take to switch over to using the Internal Regulator.  Time for some research.

The good news is that there's a great diagram on the Balmar website that shows how to wire the Alternator to use either the Internal Regulator or an External regulator.

At home, I complete my research and draw the wiring diagram in Open Office




The SPDT (Single Pole - Double Throw) switch is used to select either the Alternator's Internal Regulator or the External Regulator

I purchased the switch (a pack of 3) from Amazon. It's an On - On switch, so it cannot be in the Off Position which would cause both Regulators to be Off line!
With the Switch in the Internal Regulator position
  • The 12v from the Ignition Switch is connected to the Excite connection on the internal regulator. This powers up the Internal Regulator
  • The internal regulator senses the voltage on the +ve Output Terminal and adjusts the output of the Alternator as required.
  • With the Switch in the External Regulator position
  • The 12v from the Ignition Switch is connected to the Reg On connection of the External Regulator. This powers up the External Regulator and Powers down the Internal Regulator
  • The External Regulator Field connection to the Alternator now adjusts the output of the Alternator as required.
  • The External Regulator Sensor connects to the +ve of the Battery (actually to a shunt close to the Battery) and senses the Battery Voltage, rather than the Alternator Voltage which can be a volt or more different from the Battery Terminal voltage due to losses in the wires from the Alternator to the Battery. So the External Regulator adjusts the Alternator output more accurately. 
The Alternator's Stator or Tach connection is connected to the Tachometer which uses the signal to display the RPM of the Engine.

If the External Regulator ever fails, we simply shut off the engine, flip the switch to the Internal Regulator position and restart the Engine. Now Alternator output will be managed by it's Internal Regulator.



Life is good.




Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Navigating the New River in Fort Lauderdale Florida

Navigating the New River


We’ve been navigating the New River for 4 years, I’m sharing our experience in the hope that others will avoid some of the pitfalls we have enjoyed in that time.

The New River:
As far as Sail boats with fixed masts are concerned: The New River extends from Sand Bar Park up to the New River Fork and then either the South Fork or the North Fork. The South Fork leads to the Fort Lauderdale Marine Center beyond Davie Blvd Bridge, the North Fork leads up to Broward Bvld. My discussion is in regard to transiting the North Fork of the New River From Sand Bar Park - Upstream (Inbound) to 5th Steet Canal just before Broward Blvd.

Bridges:
There are 5 Bridges on the North Fork of the New River, all are normally closed to sailboat traffic but will open on request.  I say upon ‘request’ because the tenders, understandably, get a bit grumpy when someone ‘demands’ an opening. Hailing the bridge tender on VHF Channel #9 normally gets a quick response. The procedure we use that seems to get an appreciative response is:



[Bridgename, Bridgename] Sailing Vessel Eximius [Inbound/Outbound] [location] Requesting an Opening, Over.

-Tender’s Response-

[Bridgename] Eximius – Roger, Standing by on 9




Because our boat has an unusual name, we have it spelled out phonetically at the helm, just in case the tender asks how to spell the boat name.
Echo - eXray - India - Mike - India - Uniform - Sierra



Upon clearing the bridge, we always thank the tender with a quick

[Bridgename] Eximius - We’re clear, thanks for the opening.



The 5 Bridges are:

  • 3rd Avenue Bridge
  • Andrews Avenue Bridge
  • FEC Railroad Bridge
  • 7th Avenue Bridge
  • 11th Avenue Swing Bridge


3rd Avenue Bridge:

3rd Avenue Bridge is a double span bridge and when transiting up the New River, it does not come into view until within about 300 yards of the bridge, so, we don’t wait until we can see the bridge before requesting an opening. We call the bridge as we cross over the ‘Tunnel’ and add our ‘location’ to our call. eg. 'Just passing The Tunnel'

Once the opening starts, it gets to fully open pretty quickly.



Andrews Avenue Bridge can be seen before passing 3rd Avenue, so we request the opening of Andrews bridge before we clear 3rd Ave. It’s a short run and Andrews Ave bridge is slow to open. It’s a single span bridge, the hinge is on the Southern, left side as going up river. We hug the North side fender, we’ve seen sailboats nearer to the hinge side, but it’s not so obvious if the mast will clear as the fully open bridge overhangs the river.

Caution: There is a Pumpout Outflow on the North side of the river just downstream of Andrews Avenue Bridge. That Outflow will push us across the river unless we have sufficient speed through the water. 

Caution: The FEC railroad bridge is about 200-300 yards from Andrews Avenue Bridge - If the FEC bridge is closed, Andrews will most likely not open, which means we will have to hold station between 3rd Avenue bridge and Andrews Avenue Bridge - that could be for just a few minutes to over half an hour if it's a Freight Train passing! Most  likely we will not be the only boat between the two bridges, and it gets to feel crowded really quickly - we do not have a bow thruster - holding station can be tricky, especially if there’s a current flowing - there normally is for us. (see dock note below) We have tied up alongside an empty dock several times, because our boat has prop walk to Port, we will ideally dock port side too between the two bridges. 



Florida East Coast Railway Bridge (FEC Bridge)

The FEC Bridge is a single span bridge and is not controlled at the bridge - it’s a remote control bridge, however, when Brightline (Now Virgin) trains started using the bridge, they were required to have a tender at the bridge. They respond on VHF #9 to ‘FEC Bridge’

Caution: There is a 2nd Pumpout Outflow on the North side of the river when approaching the FEC Bridge from Andrews Avenue Bridge.

The width of the channel at the FEC bridge is narrower than it seems due to the overhang of the bridge, ther have been several boats that have struck the bridge structure because they strayed too close to the hinge side of the bridge.

There is a Website that shows the status of the bridge at https://www.nrbinfo.com/

It is also available as an App for Iphone and Android (Search for New River Bridge Info)

3rd Ave bridge is a double span bridge seen quickly after passing the FEC Bridge, and rounding Sailboat Bend, the bridge generally opens very quickly, so be prepared to rev up to pass the bridge. There are floating docks at Sailboat Bend, but beware their docksides are not nice! Have fenders out and do not scrape the dock, those are not plastic dock bumpers, they are metal! We have tied up at the floating docks several times. If you plan on picking crew up, then they can park in the big lot opposite the Museum and take the 2 minute walk to the floating docks.

Just beyond the 3rd Avenue Bridge, on the North side of the river is ‘cooley's landing marina’. There are quite a few long term liveaboards in the slips at the landing, the current can be quite strong at that point in the river, and the tops of the ramps are frequently underwater during high tides. There’s a parking lot for boat trailers.

11th Avenue Swing Bridge is the least used bridge on the North fork of the New River, but the tender normally responds right away, traffic can delay the bridge opening for several minutes.

Caution: Stay clear of the shallow area on the North side of the river as approaching either side the bridge.

Caution: Do not try to pass on the North side of the swing bridge - it’s impassible to a sailboat.



Pumpout Options 
There are several pumpout options on the New River, we have only experience at those on the South Side of the river. The first is at Smokers Park. When approaching 3rd Avenue Bridge inbound, going up river, and passing The Tunnel, Smokders Park is on the left as passing the corner. (see map) The pumpout is a Free City Service, but it can be reserved, so either take the chance that it’s not reserved and risk being asked by a city employee to leave, - or - Call the New River Dockmaster and ask to use it.

The Pumpout is controlled by a time switch on an electrical box just past the exercise area to the North of Smokers Park, Have everything ready for pump out at the boat before walking the 150 yards to the timer and set it for about 30 minutes, then head back to the boat and connect the pump out hose. It’s polite to suck a few gallons of river water into the hose before stowing it at the pump out station upon completion.

The New River Dockmaster can be reached on VHF #16 but backup with a phone call if no response on VHF Call them at: 954-828-5423



Notes:We keep our boat well up the North Fork of the New River, the canal is subject to shoaling and we can only get out of the canal within 2 hours of high tide, this means that we are probably going to have current flowing in or out as we transit the New River. Ideally we would time our departure and arrival at the dock so that the current is on our bow, it’s easier to transit the New River against the current - holding station for a delayed opening bridge is a lot easier when against the current.



The New River is used by a lot of commercial traffic. There are probably a dozen or so of River Taxis, Tour boats (Jungle Queen, Go to Sea on the Carrie Be, etc.) and then there are the Tow Boats: Large vessels heading to and from the Fort Lauderdale Marine center are often towed as the turns on the South Fork of the New River are especially tricky for a 55’ to 150’ vessel! The good news is that if you are behind a tow boat, the bridges will open quickly for them. The bad news is that if they are delayed due to the bridges, they take up a lot of river.



All of the bridges on the New River close to river traffic during rush hours between 07:30 and 09:00 and again at 16:30 to 18:00 on weekdays - National Holidays excepted.

During the year there are several events which may close a bridge for the duration, such as Fun Runs etc.


See you on the Water.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Replacing Steaming Light - Part II

Part II - cleaning up the mess

It was up the mast again on July 5th.
The boat was at the Bahia Mar Marina for the HISC Independence Day Cruise 2019 - and there was a break in festivities on the Friday, so I climbed the mast again to clean up the area where the old lights were fitted in prep for the new lighting fixture.

It took over an hour of carefully scraping away the oodles of silicone sealant that was slathers all around the old fittings.

I countersunk the outside of the holes to give the JB Weld something to grip to. Polished the area with a plastic scrub pad and then finally de-greased the whole area before applying JB Weld to the holes. (that part is not shown in the pic)




Viewed from the deck - telephoto is great - this was after applying the JB Weld and descending the mast.

Since the last climb, we purchased a West Marine Bosuns Chair - it's far more comfortable and allows for a longer time spent aloft getting the job done. But it has a weakness - it really feels as though one could fall out of the chair backwards and there's a constant need to move my butt back onto the seat rather than in the bucket that is formed between the seat and the back of the chair.

I'm thinking of adding a couple of webbing straps to keep my thighs in contact with the seat and prevent sliding backwards.

Meanwhile the area cleaned an the holes filled.

Next trip up the mast will get the JB Weld bumps smoothed down and the holes redrilled for the new light fitting. I should be able to complete the install in just one more climb - at least that's the hope. If it takes two, then OK, but probably just one more trip up the stick.

The Third trip up the mast completed the project
Here's the Combo Navigation Steaming and Deck Light that I purchased off of Amazon.



See you on the Water.

Paul

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Replacing the Mast Steaming Light and Deck Light

Replacing the Mast Steaming Light & Deck Light

After a 10 hour trip arriving at midnight, I noticed that the steaming light was really dim, and from previous trips up the mast, I knew it was a bodged job - The Deck light part of the combo lamp must have failed and someone choose to replace the deck light lamp with a new fitting - ie. now there is a Steaming light and a pair of wires going to a separate deck light (Halogen Lamp). So, time to replace both as it's impossible to fix either lamp.

Step 1 was to remove the old lamps
If you zoom in on this pic, you'll see the amount of silicone sealant that had been used to try and waterproof the fitting.

The wires from the deck light (lower) and the combo fitting (upper) are nicely joined and heat shrink tubed, but again, a huge glob of silicone was used to try and water proof the connection.


The lens of the steaming light is cracked from years of UV exposure - these lamps don't last forever!





The two wires coming out of the bottom of the combo unit are actually soldered inside the fitting and then gooped with more silicone. Click on the pic and zoom in.

Yes, that's my Sailrite machine in the background.















Special Thanks to Steffi Shiffer & Peder Sahlin for coming down to the boat dock to act as Safety while I went up the mast.

I spent about an hour up the mast sat in my bosuns sling (not really a chair) and that's not comfortable, the straps grab right where a guy doesn't want to be grabbed. 
During that hour I was able to drill out the rivets that held both fittings in place and scrape away about 90% of the silicone (another tube) off of the mast. 
There are a total of 12 holes in the mast from these fittings and previous fittings, they will need to be filled and the remainder of the silicone scrapped off and cleaned up - I'm going to get a new Bosun's Chair that doesn't try to cut of important blood supply.









This is the new combo fitting.

It has 9 LEDs in the steaming lamp and 12 in the deck lamp.

The mounting only has 2 screw holes and they look to be the same dimension and location as the removed fitting.

I'll mount the fitting with Stainless Screws using anti corrosion protectant between the surfaces.

I'll also use a SS washer to spread the load over the tab of the plastic wings of the fitting.

A trick I figured out a long time ago, is to grind down the sharp point of the screws so that they cannot catch the running rigging lines inside the mast - I'll use my cordless Dremel to cut off the screws and then grind down the edges of the cut so that they are nice and smooth.

West Marine has a July 4th sale on their Bosun's chairs - so we'll visit there before the weekend. 
Then it's back up the mast to tidy up the mounting area, cleaning off the silicone and filling the holes (JB Weld) I'll also apply a bead of silicone in an inverted U above the grommet where the electrical wires come out of the mast. I'll also apply a bead of silicone inside the edges of the new fitting wings just to encourage water to stay away from behind the fitting. Plan is to not be able to see any silicone when the new fitting is installed.

More later - meanwhile, we'll see you on the water.




Saturday, June 22, 2019

Upgrading the Cabin Lighting

Upgrading Eximius' Cabin Lighting

We have a variety of lights in the Cabin, the result of units being replaced by a smorgasbord of fittings. During our New Year's Eve Cruise, the Galley Lamp failed and has to be replaced.
I prefer that they are common fittings so that replacement is easy.


  • Galley: 12" LED Strip  - 1 white, 1 red (Both New - replacing broken florescent) 
  • Table Reading light: LED lamp White - Blue night lite option. (New - replacing weak LED)
  • Nav Table: Red LED lamp (original)
  • Port Settee: 12" LED Strip - 1 white, 1 red (Both New - replacing original)
  • Stbd Settee: 12" LED Strip - 1 white, 1 red (Both New - replacing original)
  • Port Side: 8' LED Strip White - Installed over a year ago.
  • Deck nite lites: Low Power LED lamps (Installed about a year ago, white - to be painted with thin, Red, Nail Polish)
Later, when upgrading the V-Berth & Aft Cabins, we'll use the same types of fittings.

Here's what the new fittings look like.


The 12" LED Strips are Self Adhesive (3M VHB tape) from Amazon. they come in packs of 4 all the same color.

In each lighting set, will be 1 strip of white, 1 strip of red and 1 dual switch. I went with the simplicity of dual switches rather than On-Off-On switches.

The 'Sets' will be used at the Galley, V-Berth and Aft Berth and the Bathroom










These switches are small enough to fit on the Wooden battens in the Cabin, Aft Cabin and V-Berth.

One switch will operate the White LED Strips, the other will operate the Red LED Strips.

See the wiring diagram below.

These Reading lights do not require switches, they have a built in Touch Sensitive feature.

This does mean that they consume power when turned off, not much, but any 'always on' lamps will eventually drain an uncharged battery.

Our normal practice is to turn off all systems at the Electrical Control Panel, including the Cabin Lighting circuit, so this will not be a problem.

The 'Touch Sensor' is the thin ring near the top of the lamp (where the finger is pointing)
1st touch turns the Blue rings on, 
2nd touch turns the Reading lamp on Blue rings off
3rd touch turns Reading lamp off.

The Reading Lights will be used in the main cabin(2) and the Aft Cabin, the V-Berth is not really a reading area.

All of the new lamps will utilize the existing wiring, but the switches to lamp wiring will be new.

Amazon Links

Wiring Diagrams


Pics of Completed Installations

Red Light On
White Light On



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Stormy Regatta

Bad weather story

On Saturday, we took part in the Hillsboro Inlet to West Palm Beach Sailing Club regatta (Lake Worth Florida). We left our dock Friday Morning and headed up the Intra Coastal Waterway to stay the night along side our friend, Peder, Catalina 36, 'Dalecarlia' in Pompano Beach. The trip was uneventful and we arrived at Peder's place while he was in the process of cleaning his boat's bottom in prep for the regatta. There were 22 boats registered to participate. We were in the Gunk Hole class as we really don't race, but the event was a great excuse to sail up to Lake Worth.

Saturday Morning, Peder appeared with an offer for morning coffee, but I had just poured my 2nd cup of coffee and was going through the process of getting the boat ready to sail. His dock is only 3 miles from the Ocean and just 3 bridges. I put my coffee mug down by the Port side dorade while I released the Main sail Halyard - promptly forgot about the coffee.

By 08:15 we were ready to head out, Peder & his crew were ready too. So we headed out, slow, it was near low tide and he had warned me about an obstruction on the South side of the canal entrance from the ICW. Peder should have warned me to stay near the middle of the entrance, as there was some shoaling on the Northern corner of the entrance. Yep, we went aground - soft sand - we know how that feels after previous soft groundings. We were able to slowly move off the shoal and catch up to Peder who had passed us on our Stbd side. At the Hillsboro Inlet bridge, there were at least half a dozen club boats waiting for the bridge to open, then we all passed out of the inlet, some boats peeling off to raise their sails before going out of the inlet.

We totally screwed up the start! Our class was 2nd to sequence through the start gate, each class being 5 minutes later. We crossed the start line just before the last class started - 20 minutes after our start - as I said before, we're not racers and don't normally stick to a schedule. We're Cruisers!

There was very little wind, 'The Rabbit' had his Spinnaker up, but it barely filled as he headed off shore to catch the Gulf stream. We opted to stay inshore where we had 2 knots of current carrying us to the North. Almost all of the other boats headed out to the stream where the current would be somewhere higher, but at the cost of having to head both a couple of miles East to get to the stream and then a couple of miles back to get to the finish line. As we would move a lot slower, the extra speed of being in the Gulf Stream didn't seem to valuable to us.

So we quietly, slowly, almost monotonously, crawled up the coast and our ETA at the finish line was about 16:30 according to our GPS Navigator. Of course, it started to rain, that fine drizzle that soaks everything but was barely reason for donning our Foul Weather gear. As always, we had our life jackets on and the Jack Lines were set just in case we needed to go forwards to adjust anything.

The 'Catalina Motor Yacht', one of those dinner cruise types boats, crept up on our stern, we could see them on our AIS before we could see the boat. I called the skipper to ask if they could see us on their AIS, this would be our first confirmation that our new AIS Transceiver was transmitting. They called us back and confirmed they could see us, they even replied pronouncing our boat name correctly, it's displayed on AIS receivers, along with our Speed, Course over ground and some other info about our boat.

'Catalina' motored off towards Lake Worth and by that time we could see Dalecarlia and 'Gratitude' a Hunter 27' both of which had gone out to the Gulf Stream but were now heading back inshore.

The wind had picked up from an earlier 5 knots at 140º off our Stbd Bow to 12 knots. As per our sailing plans, we started to reef. Two reefs in our Jib and One in the Main. We were now doing 7 knots GPS, not shabby!

I was thinking through the race results: Our rating was 186 seconds per mile, Peder's was 196 spm, and Gratitude's was 228 spm.  With a race distance of about 30 miles, Gratitude could finish 21 minutes after us and still beat us. Peder could  finish 5 minutes after us and still beat us. Both were closer than that, Peder not so sure, but pretty close.

All of a sudden, the wind instrument went crazy, showing the wind changed direction by nearly 90 degrees and ratched up to 20 knots. I looked over to Dalecarlia and saw him heeling hard and spinning around to starboard and thought 'What the heck is Peder doing?' when WHOOSH! we did the same, the wind spiked to above 39 knots, at least that's the biggest number I saw when I had a chance to look at the Instrument! The boat heeled hard over to Port and dipped the rail well below the water line, wave constantly bursting over the side and occasionally over the cockpit combing.

Peggy was hanging on for dear life! Both arms wrapped around the cabin top winches and feet firmly reaching for the port side seat, trying to jamb herself into position. All the while I was trying to see the instruments through fogged up glasses and holding the wheel to stop us bearing off the wind which would have put us beam to the wind, that would have been even worse.

We've been in squalls before, they typically have lasted maybe 10 minutes max, so I told Peggy to hang on, it's going to calm down in 5 minutes or so. It didn't! More than 20 minutes later, we agreed that we should try to pull in the remaining Jib and put the 2nd reef in the Main sail. I didn't think we could lower the main because it was under such stress with the high winds.

I helped Peggy bring in the jib, step by step, we worked together, Peggy jacking the furling line and me taking the line slack up on a cleat. Then Peggy easing the jib a bit more and then more struggles with the furling line. Peggy was pretty worn out by that time, so we took a breather till we tackled putting the 2nd reef in the Main. All the while, the Port side is dipping in and out of the water, still getting occasional floods into the cockpit, but the drains emptied it pretty quick. We were both soaked through even wearing our rain jackets. The wind dropped to below 25 knots, and we tackled the Main sail. Peggy dropped the main halyard about 5' and secure it. Then she passed the 2nd reef down haul line to me and I pulled the sail down to the 2nd reef position. Peggy secure that line in it's line clutch and we did the same for the 2nd reef out-haul line. It was not a perfect reef, but there was a lot less sail up than with just a single reef.

After about 30 minutes, the wind started to ease below 20 knots. I raised the head of the mainsail in order to clean up the reefing, it only needed to be raised by about 8 inches. That made the sail look a lot more orderly, and then the wind died, I mean it dropped so much we were only doing 1 - 1 1/2 knots downwind towards the finish line. Our ETA went from 16:30 to 17:45, time to drop out of the race, so we started the engine and called the race committee to announce we were dropping out.

With the engine running, we dropped the mainsail and headed to the finish line which was now about 7 miles away. I tided up the running rigging lines and we did our best to relax and ease back down from the high stress of the squall.  We heard other boats call in to drop out or announce they were ok. We called Dalecarlia and they were ok, minor damage - bimini split and mainsail jambed half way down. Gratitude was ok too.

We motored in over the finish line. The Palm Beach Sailing Club boat 'Paparazzi' stayed at the finish line until we passed it, we were the last boat in.

None of the Gunk Hole boats officially finished due to the storm, but we all got safely to the anchorage opposite the PBSC marina.  Dalecarlia was offered an overnight mooring ball and we agreed to tie up along side them. We kept clear until they had completed their mooring connection and then I prepped for going along side, getting fenders deployed and lines set.

After healing, probably as much as 50º to port, having water wash all along the side deck, in winds that, according to others, was over 50 knots, anything loose in the cabin was all over the floor including the seat cushions. So it was with amazement that, as I was setting the fenders on the Port side, I found my Coffee Mug, laying within inches of where I had left it before leaving Peder's dock 10 hours earlier!  Go Figure!

Once we were all secure and ready to go ashore for the After Race Party at the sailing club, we hailed the tender for a ride to the club. Ken, one of their sailing instructors, quickly arrived and took us to the club, I think we were the last to arrive.

We sat with a few of our club members and enjoyed the club's excellent dinner and the much needed Cold Beer!

When it came to the awards, the master of ceremonies announced that as none of the Gunk Hole class had finished, and that the club had made 3 really nice Trophies, they would have the 3 skippers tell the story of their experience of the storm and award the trophy according to the applause rating of the audience!





Enough Said!
Our First Racing Trophy
Even if we didn't finish!

See you on the water!




Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Broken Window Latch

Look what fell off the window?


 This is the Forward Beckson Portlight in the Aft Cabin.
The lower right latch fell off! The insert that attaches the latch to the screw (seen hanging down) broke in two.

Good news is that Beckson is still in business.





The broken latch.

Buddies on the C34 forum pointed out that they were still available from Beckson

Just $15 on line. purchased two of them, if one has broken, probability of other following after 30 years is pretty high.







Found them by searching for: Beckson PRK-W Latch Only

Easy fix.

See you on the water.


Monday, May 27, 2019

AIS Upgrade

Upgrading our AIS from Receiver to Transceiver

We installed our Garmin AIS 300 two years ago and it's been a great asset during our local cruising trips. It alerted us to potential collision situations with some fast moving fishing boats, lux yachts, in all kinds of conditions. Well worth the investment and the effort. The installation simply required a new NMEA 2000 Drop cable to connect to the NMEA 2000 Backbone, a power connection from a spare Circuit Breaker and rerouting the VHF Antenna Cable from the Radio to the AIS and adding a new VHF cable from the AIS to the Radio as the Garmin AIS had a built in VHF Splitter. It really was a quick install.

We're planning on extending our cruising venues and decided that it's worth the extra boat buck to add an AIS transceiver, all we needed to do was determine which manufacture to use and spend the bucks.

Garmin was our first choice, their AIS 800 Class B Transceiver was a drop in! It cost $999.99 and was not available, basically it was on back order for the USA according to Garmin support. 

We looked at Vector and a couple of others, all similar price and all required an external VHF splitter, which was basically the deciding factor. 

Our choice was the ET-413-0086 em-trak B350 Class B SOTDMA AIS Transponder and the ET-413-0060 em-trak S300 AIS/VHF Antenna Splitter.



Installation was a breeze, all done in less than 30 minutes - most of that time taken up on deciding where to install it and drilling the holes for the Transceiver and Splitter. 

The final result is aesthetically pleasing

But the system improvement is amazing. The reception is much better, not sure why, but the ASI display on our Garmin 741SX GPSMap is impressive.

Removing the Garmin AIS was easy, 4 screws, and cables. The replacement did require changing the VHF antenna connection as it previously went to the AIS, now it goes to the new Splitter. And the Splitter requires power, but I simply connected it's power cable to the power cable for the Transceiver. So now when the AIS circuit breaker is on, power is available to both the Transceiver and the Splitter.

I'm wondering if the improved reception is due to the routing of the VHF antenna. Previously it was routed from the Antenna - to a VHF / FM/AM take off and then to the Garmin AIS receive and then to the VHF Radio.
The new routing is Antenna - Splitter - AIS and Splitter - VHF / FM/AM take off then to the radio.

The new unit has a USB connection to the AIS transceiver, but we have not checked that out yet. It requires the Software that came with the Transciever to be installed on a Windows PC (laptop) Shame they don't make it available for Android!

Now we'll see you on the water, and, if you receive AIS, you'll see us on your Chart Plotter.