Saturday, December 12, 2020

Date and Fennel Whole Wheat Bread

Date and Fennel Whole Wheat Bread

Christmas came early (again) and some new baking tools arrived: Brotform, Lame, Dough Whisk and I just had to use them

Found a recipe for Date and Fennel Bread but it was basically a white bread and we really appreciate a good whole wheat bread, so tweaked the recipe and this is the result. The dark spots on the surface are where the dates got a bit crispy. We have to wait for 3 hours before our first slice and that's way to long to wait! So we'll see if we can hold out for a couple of hours.

This is a two part dough, starter and dough.
Starter (Make the day before)
1 Cup of bread flour
1 Cup of warm water
1/8th Teaspoon of Yeast

Mix all of the starter ingredients into about a 4 cup bowl that has a lid, stir them up, pop the lid on and leave till the next day, at least 6 hours, but up to 24.

Next Day:
Complete the Starter
  • 1 Cup of room temperature water - add to the Starter let it stand.
  • 1/2 Cup of Wheat Germ - add to the starter and mix with a whisk.
Dough (Make this before lunchtime so that you're not baking at night.)

  • 1 Tablespoon of Fennel Seed - toast in a skillet for 3 or 4 minutes, don't let them burn and empty skillet onto a cool plate to stop them cooking further.
  • 1 Cup of Pitted Dates - cut them crosswise slices about 1/8 of an inch thick.
  • Oil a rising bowl with lid, about 7 quarts so there's room to double the dough
In a Stand mixer's bowl:-
  • 1 Cup of Bread Flour
  • 1 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Yeast
  • Whisk them up to evenly distribute in the bowl
With the mixer running on slow, pour the starter mixture and mix for 3 minutes, if the dough does not start to combine, repeatedly add a teaspoon more of bread flour with about 30 seconds in between, the dough just needs to start to make strings of gluten. 

Continue to mix the dough and gradually add the cooled fennel seed, about a teaspoon at a time to make sure it's not in a lump.

Continue to mix adding the salt.

Continue to mix and very gradually add the dates, same rate, about 1 teaspoon at a time, they should evenly distribute into the dough

Now continue to mix the dough for a total of about 10 minutes, it will be sticky but might start to pull off of the sides of the mixing bowl.

Scrape the mixture out of the mixing bowl into the rising bowl,
Rise #1: Cover and let stand for 30 minutes
Rise #2: Using fingers or an oiled scraper, fold the edge of the dough to the center, turn the bowl a qtr tern and repeat for a total of 8 folds. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes
Rise #3: Do #2 again
Rise #4: Do #2 again
That's a total of 2 hours rising and folding.

Prepare the Brotform: Spray with water, dry with a kitchen towel, sprinkle Rice Flour on the inner surface and turn the Brotform on its side, rotating it so that the flour rolls into the grooves of the form all the way around. Don't use regular flour. No rice flour? Just use some fine cornmeal instead.

At the end of the two hours of rising and folding the dough should be about doubled in size from when it came out of the mixing bowl. Gently deflate it and turn onto a lightly floured surface.

Fold the far edge towards you to about the center of the dough and press it into the dough beneath it.
Turn the dough clockwise 90º and repeat the fold.
Do that so that there's now a rectangle of dough.
Turn the dough over so that the seams are on the underside.

Shape the dough into a large ball keeping the seams underside

Transfer the dough into the Brotform with the seam side uppermost.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for about an hour, it should rise above the top of a medium sized Brotform

While it's rising: Setup the oven with two shelves, a baking or pizza stone on the middle shelf and a tray of rocks on the lower shelf, heat the oven to 450ºF

When the oven is at temperature and the dough has risen in the Brotform, pour a half cup of water into the tray of rocks and close the door, that will add some steam to the oven. Let it sit for a minute.

Place a piece of Parchment paper onto a pizza paddle and turn the risen dough onto the paper. Now is the time to slash the bread with the lame, if you want. 

Add a second 1/2 cup of water to the tray

Slide the Parchment paper and dough off of the paddle onto the hot stone and close the oven

Set a timer for 35 minutes

Check the dough internal temperature after 35 minutes and every 5 minutes until it registers 200ºF Max of 45 minutes. 

Then pull the Bread out and remove the paper. Cool the bread before slicing it should look really good.

Hope you enjoy.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Cabin Cushions Update

 Updating the Cabin Cushions

I'm pretty sure that the boat cabin cushions are all original, that means they are 33 years old. Some of them even have the original markings on the back from the Catalina factory in 1987. The V-berth cushions are in good shape, compared to the saloon cushions, they are hardly used. Same goes for the Aft berth cushions. The cushions are also a dark blue with a grey dot pattern and buttons to create a surface shape that is not particularly effective.  Time for an update.

The original cushions were used even though the raised starboard cabin seats were a slightly different shape. The cushions are very worn and have little support, it's a bit like sitting on a plank of wood.

This picture of the starboard fore seat shows that there is no seat back, so the occupant (it's Peggy's seat for meals) has to suffer leaning against the hard wood bulkhead.

That also makes the cabin dark, off of that dark blue and the, seemingly, large bulkhead at the front end of the main cabin.

So, as usual, it takes a bit of planning.

To figure out the amount of cushion foam I would need, I used Google Draw.
The process was pretty simple:- Start a new Draw project, set the page to a Custom size the same as the size of a sheet of foam. I chose National Foam Products with is 10 minutes away from our house. No shipping charges and they have everything I would need for the foam in stock.
So now I have a google draw that has a page dimension of 82x55 
Next I created a rectangle for each cushion piece measured to the nearest inch and moved that round the page. With all of the pieces displayed and maneuvered on the page to fit, some were left over and I simply copied them onto a second draw page. I ended up with 4 google draw pages.
#1 Cabin Seat Foam 4"
#2 Cabin Seat Foam 4"
#3 Cabin Seat Foam 2"
#3 Cabin Seat Foam 1"

This method worked so well that I decided to use the same technique to determine how much material I would need.
I created a new Google draw page 54 x 288 (that's 54 to match the material width and 288 was my initial guess of 8 yards (8 * 36)

Same process, I calculated the size of the seat top plates then added a rectangle to the page to scale, repeated that for all of the cushions. Then did the same for the cushion end plates (or boxing) and it turns out the best fit was 8 yards - good guesstimate.

I have plenty of Phifertex to use for the seat backing and the 'stretchers' used to create the Knee Risers at the front edge of each cushion.

Then it was time to place the orders:
Eversoft Vinyl Fabric Cushion Cover Material

8 Yards of Silver (it's a shade of grey) EverSoft textured vinyl from Sailrite, they really do have the best choices.
Then High Density Polyurethane Foam from National Foam Products in Pompano Beach Florida.
2 82 x 55 sheets of 4"  
1 82 x 55 sheet of 2" 
1 82 x 55 sheet of 1" 
and a couple of cans of Foam Glue, they were cheaper at Sailrite, but no shipping from NFP.

Total cost for the 9 pieces (seats and backs) is less than $800, just imagine how much it would cost to have them made! And that includes getting glue and a foam cutter.

Fabric is on it's way, Foam company confirmed the price of that part too. Should have everything to start in about 10 days. Making progress 👍

Of course, if the weather & tides allow us to go sailing, then perhaps we'll see you on the water.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Cabin Upgrades (Part iv)

 Cabin Table Upgrade - Practice

The weather in South Florida has finally cooled off, it is 69ºF in my Garage today - cool enough to start practicing the table finish process.

I mixed up 5oz of resin and gave it a good stir, not sure if I mixed it enough, I was worried about how quickly it would kick off.

As this is just a test piece where I hoped to learn how to apply the resins and to achieve the general look of the finish as well as the rudimentary things such as using the butane burner to eliminate bubbles and the Electric heat gun to manipulate the applied resin.

To mix the individual colors I decanted 1oz into the individual mixing cups, one for each color: White, 3 blues and one clear.

I mixed the black and copper pigments in order to obtain a sandy color, it worked out pretty good.

Each of the mixing cups got about 1/4 teaspoon of pigment except for the sandy mixture. I waited until completing the base coat of clear resin before mixing the black and copper into the remaining resin in that cup. Used just 1/8th teaspoon of both the balk and copper into the remainder of the clear resin after applying the initial cover coat.

Here's the 1st test piece, not bad for a first attempt.

  • Need to mix the resin for longer to ensure the cure is complete. After 1 and 1/2 hours, the resin was still not 'solid', firm enough that I could not pull the mixing spatulas out of the cups, but maybe it will take much longer to fully cure. I'll wait 24 hours.
  • Using my gloved fingers to eradicate the solid colors works, but need to make sure that it's not confined to a very small area as it shows in the finished product. 
  •  The test piece was just an offcut of a ply wood, no sanding or rounding of the edges. However, the resin did not flow over the sides as expected, I'll round the edges of the next test piece.
  • The 'cells' formed quite nicely and the 'waves' were pretty effective for a 1st try. 
Here's a view of the 1st test piece after 26 hours of cure time.

I tried to shave off the 'drips' from the underside with a freshly sharpened chisel. They would not come off!!! 

Note for 2nd test:- Scrape drips from the bottom as the resin is applied and before it cures.

For the 2nd test piece, I'll round over the top edges and apply a couple of coats of primer similar to that applied to the actual tabletop.

Lessons learned:- Baby powder is great to ease  putting on the vinyl gloves. Dust was not much of an issue but it's worth it to build a dust covered bench. The coloring pigments go a long way! I barely used 1/4 of a teaspoon and the resulting resin mix had a vibrant coloring. Making the sandy color using the copper and tiny amount of the black pigments worked our really well.  If I want the underside of the table sealed, it should be done prior to the top application of resin.

Ok, time to make the second test piece.

See you on the water, getting closer to having a new cabin table.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

English Whole wheat Boat Muffins

Making Whole Wheat English Muffins on the Boat

I really enjoy cooking on the boat, but I practice at home first. That practice includes using utensils that I have on the boat and avoiding those that are not.

Here's the recipe, it's a version of the King Arthur Baking English muffins but modified to cook aboard.

Makes 8 English Muffins. (Just double for 16, but that might be 4 separate bakes of 4 )

Time to bake:-

  • 1st Rising Time - Two hours
  • 2nd Rising Time 20 to 30 minutes
  • Baking time 21-25 minutes
  • Total time: about 2 1/2 Hours - but most of that is just watching, plenty of time to do something other busy on the boat.


  • 7/8ths Cups of warm milk (warm enough to melt butter)
  • 1&1/2 Tablespoons of  butter
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Granulated sugar (or cane sugar)
  • 1/2 of a large egg or 1 small egg -  lightly beaten
  • 1 Cup of KABC Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1//4 Cup of KABC Bread Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon  of yeast
Also need a tablespoon of Ground Cornmeal for the baking tray.

Kitchen Tools:

  • Mixing Bowl I use a 7 Quart Mixing bowl with Lid and a Spatula to mix the ingredients.
  • Spatula
  • 4 Cup measuring Cup
  • Hand whisk or Fork.
  • Cookie sheet that fits the oven.
  • Parchment Paper.
  • Kitchen slice (to flip the half baked muffins)
  • Oven that can get up to 350ºF

Making the Dough:

Add the egg to the measuring cup and lightly beat the eggs maybe 30 seconds.

Add the butter to the egg mix.
Add the warm milk to the mix and give it a good stir.

In the mixing bowl, add the Flours, Salt and Yeast.
Whisk to mix for about 30 seconds.

Pour the Egg, Milk, Butter mixture into the bowl containing the Flour, Salt and Yeast.

Now the difficult bit: Stir it up with the Spatula, this should take about 3 or 4 minutes, it'll be a sticky and about as stiff than peanut butter (creamy). Mixing it is just to ensure the flours are all combined and the yeast is generally distributed. 

 Once mixed, put a lid on the mixing bowl ( I really detest using plastic film, but if you have to !)

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, it won't rise much, probably not double.

Preparing the Muffins:

Line the baking tray with Parchment Paper ( I don't have a small tray at home so I'm using a standard tray here, on the boat I would cook two batches on the small tray that fits the oven.)

Sprinkle some cornmeal on the paper.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Divide into 8 pieces

Roll each piece into a ball, then turn the outsides up into the bottom to form a smooth top to the ball.

Press the dough piece to form about a 3" diameter disk, it'll be about 1/4" or so thick.

Place the dough onto the paper with the cornmeal. Repeat for as many of the muffins as will fit your tray.

Cover the tray with either another piece of parchment paper or with a second tray inverted.

Let the dough rest for about 20 to 30 minutes, they won't rise up very much but they'll rest easy :)

While the doughs are resting on the tray, preheat the oven to 350ºF (My boat's oven can get up to 475º)

When the oven is up to temp and the 20 to 30 minutes rest time is over, Pop the tray in the oven.

Let them bake for about 7 to 8 minutes, then flip each muffin.

Let the 2nd side bake for 7 to 8 minutes, then flip again. This time one side (now the top) should be browned, Let them bake again for another 5 minutes. Time to pull them out.

The inside of the muffins should reach close to 200ºF if not leave them for another couple of minutes.

If using a small baking tray, then let the oven get back to temperature and bake the 2nd batch.

Let the muffins cool if you can, but no harm if you fork one or two apart while still hot and smother the nooks and crannies with butter or spread.

Keep them in the bread bin and toast them in the morning for breakfast, oh so good!

This batch turned out great, the whole wheat flavour is really nice and the nooks and crannies are not like crumpets, but they are just waiting for a tablespoon of butter or spread with, perhaps, some Peanut Butter and Plum jam.

I'll be baking these often, so easy and so delicious. 

See you on the water, I may have a few on board to share.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Thanksgiving Cruise 2020

Socially Distant Thanksgiving Cruise 2020

Sometimes planning works out, and others it just doesn't! 

Plan: Race with the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club's 'Mary Wells Coastal Race' from the start just North of Hillsboro Inlet down to Port Everglades (PE 1 Buoy). Race Start: 11:00. 

We departed the dock 20 minutes late at 8:20am. A couple of hundred yards down the canal, someone had left a line between their power boat and the dock on the opposite side of the canal - preparations for the anticipated arrival of Hurricane (it wasn't) ETA - LAST MONDAY! Argggg! Sorry for all of the expletives, but Come On! It wasn't even that much of a storm, just some high water as far as most of Fort Lauderdale was concerned - OK, so some places had flooding, but it goes with the territory during King Tides, not nice especially if you happen to live where it floods - but not here!  We were delayed by about another 15 minutes while I prepared to cut the line and then Peggy notices that there is a resident sitting on the patio beyond the boat. After a number of quite loud requests that they come and release the line or suffer it's demise by knife, the resident unties the line from the boat and I pull it in then toss it to the opposite shore. The way is clear.

As we left the New River and turned South towards 17th Street Causeway bridge, it was evident that the Spring High Tides were ebbing. At the 17th st. Bridge, the Fender Markers indicated that there was between 52 to 54' clearance close to the fenders. That's plenty for us if we're in the middle. There were several sailboats with much bigger sticks than ours holding position North of the bridge but they had left plenty of room for smaller traffic to pass. So we did. Peggy turned the helm over to me being a little reluctant to test the bridge height.

As we motored under the bridge Peggy noted that there was a very large ship leaving the Port directly ahead of us - we know better than to claim that we had right of way - we didn't - and it was a really big ship. So we just turned to Starboard and let it pass after which we followed it out of the Port. Then the rain came down, really heavy. - Peggy was not so keen on staying the course but I persevered, and we turned North setting a course for the Start North of HI.
With the course laid in, the GPS indicated that we would get there at 6 knots around 12:06--- 12:06 when the race started at 11:00 Grrrrr.

This plan was in the Failed Column.

With no chance of making the start time, I decided that we might as well just head back into Port and see if we could arrive early at The Bahia Mar Marina. 

We motored under 17th Street Causeway bridge, now about 10:30am, the clearance was up to 56' but the bridge was opening for a much larger sailboat outbound.  For some reason, she turned to port which meant that we needed to turn to port also rather than the normal passing Port Side to Port Side, but an early change of direction is the correct thing to do and we passed Starboard to Starboard without incident. Sure was a pretty vessel.

Once past the bridge we slowed down to delay our arrival at Bahia Mar, the confirmed on the radio that we were welcome to arrive early and that a dock hand would be waiting. 

We have docked at the Bahia Mar many times, some were near perfect and others were best forgotten. But one thing we have learned is that if the docking does not work out first try, there's no shame in pulling away and setting up for a 2nd or even 3rd attempt. Better safe than sorry. And the sorry would be if we hit any of the other boats in the marina.

Our first attempt seemed to be perfect, We stopped the boat with the stern about 10' into the slip and past the lines to the dock hands. Then the current took hold of the bow and forced us to pull away in order to keep clear of the other boats. The dock hands passed the lines back - nice, preventing them from getting caught in our prop, that would have been a sorry situation. We maneuvered away from the dock and headed out of the marina in order to turn and try again. The second attempt worked just fine. Accounting for the strong current we easily docked and had the boat tied up in quick order.

While we were getting ourselves sorted out with Shore Power and the extra lines that just makes things feel better, our buddy from Affection stopped by to let us know they were already in their slip. That made two of the club boats were tied up.

I set about cleaning our boat. The recent heavy rains due to ETA and that morning had left the boat a natural green color, it should be white! Out came the Simple Green and the Boat brushes. I was able to get the Port side of the top deck scrubbed down in about 2 hours. Peggy and I had a lunch break of Crackers and Humus and some Salt and Vinegar chips - Comfort food!

Sometime around 12pm ish, Michael and Brenda arrived with their crew of half a dozen or so aboard Imagine. Happy to help, I assisted in taking their lines. Now, with a crew that big, there are enough hands to have every fender and every line manned and a few crew able to sit around doing not a lot, but they do and Michael and Brenda are supervising from the helm.. Whereas, Peggy and I have to work the lines, prep the fenders and navigate the boat alongside. But then, their boat is much bigger than Eximius.

One of the club members had stopped at my house to collect one of the Tables we would need for our social. It was really out of Ethel's way to get the table, but club members tend to go out of their way to make things work. Ethel saved the day. So a big Thank You to Ethel. (Ethel is the Commodore of the Single Sailors Sailing club.) 

The plan was to hold the social on the large hard standing outside of the Captains Quarters, however, there was a really big wedding that occupied all of the area and the dock where the wedding was taking place. So we figured we would hold the social on B-Dock where there were now 3 of our club boats.

While this was going on, the other boats that took part in the Mary Wells Coastal Race were heading home back towards Hillsboro. It had been a really good race day, not too heavy wind and seas were pretty calm.

Gradually, club members started to arrive, socializing began while we were doing our best to keep socially distant. As hosts, we had brought a box of spare face masks, hand sanitizer and a tub of chlorox wipes (still in short supply) Our instructions to the guests were 'Bring your own Beverages, Bring your Own Food, Bring your own Desserts and Bring your own chairs' We really wanted to make this a safe event.

As cruising gifts, I had purchased several of these folding tables, figuring that they would be suitable for carrying on boats. 

They fold up to a neat and easily stowed package.

As the boats arrived, I passed out the gifts. That included one for our Commodore and Rear Commodore. 

With a couple left over I gave them to the members that came to the event by car.

By 17:30, the club members had arrived and setup their foods to share. Now, just a reminder, the instructions were BYOB, BYOF, BYOD and BYO Chair. And if anyone was bringing something to share, then it should be individual servings - not requiring utensils that would be handled by many and not require filling or stuffing - like Tortillas, or Salad bar.  So most, like myself, brought Desserts that were individually wrapped. More on that later.

The co-host  -  Jeff Keiser, had prepared a Thanksgiving Trivia, he had enough questions to match the number of mini-Whiskey bottles that I had left over from previous cruises. Many of the questions were about the Mayflower - I should have known the answers but only got one What is a Tun - It's a Barrel.

Jeff did a great job of entertaining us and helping us get the right answers, well, near enough answers.

We gave out all of the Whiskey.

It was soon time to have the Bake Contest. I had to laugh! I had spoken with Mirsa a week earlier suggesting that she not wrap here Chocolate cake in single use plastic but consider using Parchment paper instead. Well Mirsa went above and beyond. She had found a supply of bio degradable mini tubs to hold the Blueberry Reduction Cream Cheese Frosting and then wrapped each piece of delicious chocolate cake in a piece of Parchment paper secured with a neat piece of bio-degradable garden twine. The packages look terrific which matched the flavours. 

Jeff Keiser brought Bags of home made Cookie to the table - yes, bags each with one cookie. That will bring a smile to anyone that peaked inside of the bags to see what lay within. They were really good.

Bob had brought peeled shrimp on cocktail sticks, very tasty too. 

I had brought individual apple pies (think apple empanadas) but I had - oh the shame - wrapped them individually in sandwich zip lock baggies.   Quite correctly, Mirsa reminded me of our conversation about not using single use plastic. Oh the humility 😎

Suzi and Moon had not brought anything to share, so they were both selected as impartial judges.

After they had tasted each of the delights, they announced the winners.

4th Shrimp

3rd Bags of Cookie

2nd Chocolate cake with Blueberry Reduction Cream cheese frosting

1st - I'm really not humble about this - YES - My Individual Apple Pies Won 1st place.

There weren't any prizes, but it was fun.

After the bake contest, we had a line toss contest. Several members took a turn at tossing a line. I had a 50' 1/2" double braided line and they had to see who could toss the line the furthest. That was a simulation of passing a line ashore to the dock from your boat. 

1st I showed how the Royal Navy taught me, at age 15, to coil a rope for throwing then gave an example of how to throw the rope. After the demonstration, brazen members came forward to try their hand. Brenda beat everybody before her, the Judy threw and was even with Brenda, but Judy put a lot more energy into tossing the line, so much that Judy almost did a pirouette and landed quite painfully on the hard dock. Sore but still smiling, Judy limped back to her chair aided by Jeff and soon had a large bag of ice to help ease a very painful foot. 

Last to toss the line was Astrid. Astrid casts a longer shadow than Judy and consequently tossed the line at least a foot beyond Judy's attempt. Astrid earned the last bottle of Whiskey, Judy earned a piggy back ride thanks to Jeff, back to their boat for a Ibuprofen and some hubby care time.

After some armchair socializing, the party ended and folks picked up the remains of their foods, their chairs and cruising gifts. Commodore Dale and I discussed this year so far and plans for next year. It's not been an easy year. Normally the major work for the Commodore is done as Vice Commodore in preparation for their Commodore Year, then it pretty much happens like clockwork, but this has not been a normal year for anyone. The Covid Pandemic has clamped down upon many of the club features that we have taken for granted over the years. No raftups, not socials, limited cruising, and social distancing is the rule. Simply put, even if you feel safe in participating in club events, we must all practice healthy behaviour, social distancing, small groups and if you don't feel comfortable attending any of our events, that's just fine, better be safe than sorry. It's not just the senior generation either! Although the youngest of the population are mostly spared, if they get infected and carry the virus to their parents and then onto their senior friends and family, each would be heartbroken if someone were to succumb from the consequences.  So we totally respect the reluctance to participate, but oh we really do miss the love.

Sunday morning, Judy was feeling a bit better, foot wrapped in an Ace Bandage, Jeff & Judy were the first to leave the marina. Imagine's crew headed up the marina's swimming pool. I spent the afternoon scrubbing the other half of Eximus, it was really looking a whole lot better.

Monday morning we sorted out the boat, breakfasted on Cereal and Toast - frosted with some of Mirsa's Blueberry reductioncreame cheese and plenty of hot coffee. With everything tied down and provisions stowed for transport home, we were ready to depart. With perfect timing, Zack from the marina arrived and quickly completed a pump out, that would save us having to worry about using the pump out at Smokers Park.

Peggy did a great job of steering us away from the slip and turned us towards the exit from the Marina at 9:55am. We were along side our dock at 9:55, turned the boat around and unloaded everything we needed to the truck and headed home at 12:15. 

At home we quickly unloaded the truck, sorted through the mail, calmed the cat that had missed us, not really, and had a Yogurt and fruit dessert for lunch. 

Time for a shower!

See you on the water.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

New Camera Mount


 Camera Equipment on our boat.

With nine months of Pandemic semi isolation under our belt, we're trying to expand our world access and that means trying to get out on the boat more often. That means we'll have more chances to record video and take more sailing photographs.

Peggy has a nice Nikon D3100 SLR and takes great photos, I'm trying to encourage her to take more. I 
have an Olympus Camera, not as fancy but it takes good photos and videos. 3rd Camera (not including our phones and tablet) is an Akaso Brave 4 4K action camera with a load of accessories to enable securing it to the boat or boat hook (for under water hull inspections).

I've been looking for a 2nd action camera as, sometimes, it's good to have a camera looking aft as well as our normal camera looking forwards.

I'm guessing that my amazon searches were the cause that I received an offer from LSJX to review their bike mount for GoPro and Phones.

I ordered the Bike mount and it arrived the next day. Gotta love Amazon Prime!

Over the past couple of years, I've had several phone mounts and camera mounts. Most of them have failed within a month and I'm not a brutal user. When I saw that this mount was mostly plastic, my expectations dropped. However, upon receipt that changed. The segment that clamps to a tube (bike handlebar or boat rail/bimini tube etc.) is not a cheapo plastic, it's sturdy! To test it, I clamped it to my desk top, that worked solidly, clamped it to my workshop bench top which is pretty thin sheet steel, same again, solid! So the clamp stand up and looks like it will hold in place, however I'll still secure it with a wire tie as boats tend to vibrate when under power, especially a 3 pot diesel engine sailboat.

The mount can hold a phone and action camera at the same time. One very pleasant aspect of this mount is the thumb screw of the camera mount - look how long it is compared to a regular screw, so much easier to attach the camera. (The lower screw is from my camera mount. The, longer, screw comes with this bike mount.

More good news, the attachment is standard, so many of the existing accessories I have for my action camera fit which significantly expands the mounting options using this mount. 

Now for the phone attachment, the picture shows it clamping the sides of the phone, the rubber like bands really hold the phone in place and their position does not interfere with the phone side buttons. It's a bit of an effort to detach the phone once attached, but I see that as a plus. The phone attachment can be quickly released from the mount by just squeezing the two side pushes of the adapter, the good part about that is the phone with mount adapter also fits several of my action camera mount adapters. My existing camera mount does not have a suitable method of attaching a phone, so this is a big plus for this mount.

Just to show how wide this bike's clamp opens, here is the mount on the box in which it arrived.

The clamp closes up to almost nothing and has rubber inserts on both of the clamping surfaces. The adjusting screw (on the right in this pic) can be spun easily once pressure on the clamps is released making it very quick to open or close the clamp to fit different diameter tubes.

I'll definitely keep this mount and I'll give it a 5 star review on amazon.

See you on the water (and maybe you'll be in some of our photos.)


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

More cooking for on the boat

Pita Bread Bake

Ok, so I enjoy coking & baking, a recent hobby that has turned out to be really useful. There's a FB page for 'Cooking on Boats' that shows I'm not the only one. But, of course, I mostly cook at home with a healthy dose of wishful thinking - I could be baking on the boat!

Normally when we're out on Eximius, I do all of the cooking, just detest being idle. Bread baking on the boat is a big deal for me, and I typically bake more than one loaf so that I can share it with whomever is my boat neighbor.

Easy meals on the boat are always welcome, and Pita Bread is the basis for so many, funny that I've never baked Pita Bread before. Time to bake Pita Bread.

Because I can, first bakes are normally done at home, however, I do my best to consider what it would be like if baked on the boat. So I resist the Stand Mixer and lean towards hand mixing and kneading instead

Here's the recipe for these easy pita breads.

1&1/3rd Cups of Bread flour.
1 & 1/4 Teaspoons of yeast.
1 Teaspoon of Salt
5 oz of warm water
1 oz of EVO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 Tablespoon of sugar (or honey)

Making the Dough:
Mix Flour, Yeast, Salt in a mixing bowl (Stand mixer or regular large mixing bowl)

In a four cup measuring jug or medium sized saucepan, mix the Water, EVO and sugar/honey. I used very warm water (110ºF) to help the honey melt.

Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix for a couple of minutes (Dough hook slow stand mixer or using a spatula) until all of the dry flour is incorporated.

Mix on medium speed for about 8 minutes (total mixing 10 minuts) OR turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for 6 minutes using a scraper to pick the dough up between turns.

Now on a slightly floured surface, knead for a less than a minute to form into a round ball. Place dough in a lightly greased rising bowl (I use a bowl with a lid rather than cover with plastic wrap)

Let rise till about doubled in size, about an hour or more.

On a clean lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and deflate getting rid of most of the larger air bubbles. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, put 3 back in the bowl and cover.

**Shape the 1/4 dough into a ball then press down with your hand palm to form a disk. Then pick up the disk (it's probably about 2-3 inches diameter) and squeeze the edges towards the center with thumbs, do this until the dough is ball shaped again.

Now to form the Pita: Preheat the oven and pizza stone/Cast Iron plinth to 500ºF (or as close as you can get your boat oven to that temperature.) 

Have a sifter with flour handy and sprinkle flour onto the ball and surface. Press and roll the dough into about an 8" round, it will quite thin. Place onto a piece of parchment paper and cover with another. They need to rest for about 20 minutes

 Repeat from ** above for each of the quarters of dough.

Baking the Pita Bread: 

On the boat I can only cook one at a time, at home it's the same because my pizza stone is not big enough for 2.

 Using a well floured pizza peel or large scraper, slide a piece of dough onto the stone/plinth. Bake for about 1 minute, they should start to inflate. As soon as they begin to inflate, turn them over and bake for a total of about 3 minutes, they might turn a golden brown if the oven is hot enough, don't leave them in too long, they'll become crusty - guess how I know!

They are done! Put the baked pita onto a cooling surface, let the oven get back up to tempreature, about 2 or 3 minutes and then bake the next dough, same process.

Storing the Pita Bread:

This recipe is for 4 pita breads and Peggy & I typically eat half of one for lunch. I store the remainder in a zip lock baggy. They survive for 3 or 4 days in the fridge.

Stuffing the Pita Bread:

If all went well, I hope it did, then cut a Pita Bread (along it's diameter) and it should easily shape into a pocket, I use a table spoon to open the pocket almost to the outer edge of the Pita Bread.

If I'm preparing a salad pocket, I'll spread some dressing over the insides of the open pocket, if preparing a fruit pocket (unusual I know, but it works) then I'll spread some yogurt over the insides. 

Stuffing the pocket with just about anything that is not too wet. For salad I'll use whatever I have:- Some mixed salad, some carrots, onion, chopped pickles and some cheese and some lunch meat. I'll make a pile of it all and mix it up, then scoop in enough to fill the pockets. If I'm making a fruit pocket, do the same with chopped, thawed frozen fruit or fresh fruit and scoop that into each pocket.

Make ahead:

The wet dressing/yogurt will make the Pita Bread soggy, so I don't fill them for a later meal, but I will prepare the filling with some dressing/yogurt in a zip lock baggy, or, much preferred, in a locking snack box and then fill the pockets with the mixture when it's time to serve

Hope you enjoy them. Let me know of any variations or questons.


See you on the Water. 




Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Fixing our Electrical System (Part iv)

KUDOS to Blue Sea Systems 

Update on the Reverse Polarity Indication System.

I had contacted Blue Sea product tech support, asking if their LED panel lamps needed to have a resistor included inline.
Blue Seas 110v AC LED

Here's what I asked:-
Tech support query concerning PN 8034

Does this item require an inline resistor?

Just purchased two of these for use in my 110v electrical panel in my sailboat.

Do I need to include a resistor in series with these lamps?

They will be used #1 to show that the AC power is switched on
#2 to indicate if the shore power is reverse polarity.




They replied within less than 24 hours even though my question was asked on a Sunday. I probably would still be waiting if the manufacturer had been outside of the USA.

Here's their reply:-

Thank you for the question.


The 8034, and all of the LEDs that we sell, come with the appropriate resistor for the specified voltage in the 6” leads.  For the 8034 you’ll see a section of heat shrink in the white lead, that is the resistor.


Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.


Best regards,


Avery Stiles

Mechanical Engineer

ABYC Certified Marine Electrician



Blue Sea Systems

4600 Ryzex Way

Bellingham, WA  98226


Main Line 360.738.8230

Toll Free 800.222.7617


Following up on that question. Blue Sea confirmed that the resistance inline with the 110v LED lamp is 33KΩ.

Further reading, I found the clearest advice in Don Casey's 'Sailboat Electrics Simplified' 1999.

From that, I figured that the following diagram is correct.

110v AC and Reverse Polarity System

Finally, I'm close to completing the system layout. So the next step is to get to work doing the upgrade.

One of my objectives is to prevent electric shorts or electrocution because of the open nature of the AC circuit breakers. The concept that looks like it will work is a sheet of acrylic that is formed to cover the AC Circuit breakers which would prevent a tool accidently shorting the connections or shorting me to 110v. But that's the final part of this puzzle.

Still looking for a decent weather window so that we can take the boat out.

See you on the Water!


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Fixing our Electrical System (part iii)

Fixing our Electrical System (part iii)

Time to work on the layout of the AC segment of the Electrical Control Panel.

Two major objectives are 1) Update the wiring so that they have the correct terminations, correct wire size, only one terminal connected to the switched side of the Circuit Breakers. 2) Reduce the risk of short or electrical shocks by covering the AC Circuit Breakers.

The Neutral and Ground AC wires are currently positioned on terminal blocks that will be removed. The new terminal blocks will be on the new Terminal Box Bread Board that will be secured to where the existing terminal blocks are located.

Terminal Block Bread Board

The three horizontal 5 port terminal blocks on the left of the panel are for the 110v AC connections.
The top block will be home for the Neutrals (note the jumper that joins all of the 5 terminals)
The lower block will be home for the Earths (similar jumper joining all of the 5 terminals)

The middle block, lower connections will connect to the Circuit Breakers on the control panel. 
The middle block, upper connections will connect to the appropriate devices (Outlets Port & Stbd, Water Heater, Inverter Charger, and the Air Conditioning System.)  

The three 110v Terminal blocks have insulating covers (the existing blocks do not).

110v AC Terminal Block Schematic

Next I need to make sure I have enough Terminals, Wire, Heat Shrink, Labels etc. to start the project. I'm hoping that it will only take a couple of days to complete - but I'll make sure I have plenty of wiggle room as some of the wires will need to be changed from the blocks to their destination device. I would not be surprised to find that the '110v Outlets' have to be completely rewired and I will be installing GFCI's in each circuit (port and starboard). 

Still hoping we can go sailing before we start this - I say 'we' because it will save a lot of time if we can both get our heads around this project.

So, See you on the Water!


Friday, October 16, 2020

Fixing our Electrical System (part ii)


Fixing our Electrical System (Part ii)

Next step: Prepare the Terminal Block Bread Board.

The Electrical Panel is mounted to a wooden frame that had a hole cut into it that is pretty snug around the switches and circuit breakers in the panel. 

When completed, that panel will have some 'handles' on the front. That will allow the panel to be unscrewed from the supporting woodwork and pulled away to be laid flat with the front now facing down. That will expose all of the switches and breakers while keeping them elevated from the surface of the chart table. Hopefully, that would avoid accidentally operating any of those switches or breakers. The electrical connections from the switches and breakers will be via a loom that's long enough to facilitate pulling the panel away from it's supporting woodwork.

Oh, currently there is a hinge on the bottom edge of the panel, that is supposed to make it easier to get behind the panel, but it doesn't do it very well. Being able to pull the panel away will make it a lot easier to get both to the back of the panel and to all of the terminal blocks that will be mounted on the Terminal Breadboard attached to the hull brackets outboard of the electrical panel.

Cardboard template cutout. I was hoping to be able to make the breadboard 9" tall, but that's not going to fit. So I'll trim it to 7.5" tall.

Next time we're at the boat I'll check to see that it will go in through the gap when the electrical panel is open.

Like many boat owners, I watch a lot of YouTube videos on everything from Cruising stories to Boat repairs, from Rope splicing to Electrical how to's.  Watched one about a new boat on the market, and typically they have nicely done electrical systems. Because of one image, I got the idea of modifying the way that the Electrical Control Panel pulls out.

Right now the big issue is that the panel is only able to hinge out and down by about 50º and that restricts the access both to the wiring on the back of the panel and to the wiring that is on the bulkhead behind the panel.

Right now the big issue is that the panel is only able to hinge out and down by about 50º and that restricts the access both to the wiring on the back of the panel and to the wiring that is on the bulkhead behind the panel.

If I remove the lower hinge, then the entire panel could pull away from the bulkhead. To prevent the switches touching the Nav Table Surface when the panel is laid down, I could attach a few 'handles' that are deeper than the switches. So that's the plan. I would also clean up the edges of the hole in the bulkhead so that there is better clearance between the panel switches and the hole.

Next. Closer review of the wiring.

This photo shows the top most Circuit Breaker which is a double throw for the AC power. It connects the Hot and Neutral lines to the AC Distribution Breakers (A/C, Water Heater, Outlets and Inverter/Charger) 

The switch (back) in the foreground is the Reverse Polarity Test Switch and, just to the right, the Reverse Polarity Indicator Lamp.

If the Shore power Hot and Neutral lines were incorrect, ie. Reversed, then the lamp should light. 
The Test switch is simply to test the lamp.

The problem is that there is that missing connection on the left side of the switch! That switch should connect the lamp to Earth (the neutral and ground are connected on the boat) and the Neutral input at the main AC circuit breaker. If the Lamp illuminates, then that would mean the Neutral side of the breaker is actually a Hot connection! Wrong! Big time!  

Reverse Polarity Switch Circuit

Reverse Polarity Circuit Diagram
This picture shows what I believe is the correct wiring of the Reverse Polarity Indicator system.

Note. It does not show the additional parts of the boat shore power and Inverter power distribution nor does it show the Galvanic Isolator. The sole purpose of the image is to show the wiring of the Reverse Polarity indicator system.

The 'red' wire is not included in the current wiring on the boat (that's the empty tab on the Lamp Test Switch.)

And now the good news! While at the boat yesterday, the template for the Terminal Bread Board fits easily. So I can go ahead and cut the board then attach the Terminal and Fuse Blocks.

New Terminal Block Bread Board

 The New Terminal Block Bread Board is cut to size and the terminal blocks, fuse block and +ve Busbar are all a attached. I used 3/4" #6-32 S/S Dome headed screws and Captive nuts.

I'll drill the holes for the screws that will attach the bread board to the existing wooden fillet that is currently fiberglassed onto the inside of the hull.

Every little step is just that, a step forward. Right now, I'm working on the overall wiring diagram of the bread board. My intent is to get all of the wiring locations figured out before I start ripping into the existing panel wiring. 

This image will auto update if I make any changes.
We're hoping to get out on the water pretty soon, a few days of grumpy weather are already forecast. Looks like sometime next week. 

So, see you on the Water.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Keeping track of Boat Work

Service Log

At our sailing club meeting this week (Yes, we are able to have a Socially distanced club meeting outside at a restaurant. ) a sailing friend mentioned how his boat's previous owner kept a log of just about everything he did on the boat. I showed him my online service history log.

Why do I keep it up especially as some of it is repetitive? Simple answer, I cannot remember what I had for breakfast last Sunday, let alone when I last did an oil change on the boat. Of course, it's not just recording the routine stuff like oil changes or filter changes. I try to record just about everything I do that might need to be considered at some future time.

At the top of my Blog Pages is a Tab Menu, it looks like this:-

Click on the 'Service History' tab. It's actually a Google Sheet that is embedded in the page setup, so it's automatically updated when I make a change to the Spreadsheet.
Here's the link:- Service History Link 

Oh, if you would like to receive an email whenever I post a new article in Sailing Eximius, just enter your email address in the 'Follow by Email' field on the side of the blog article pages.  I do not harvest, sell, giveaway or respond to your email, I use Feedburner to automatically send an email once a day if I have posted a new article to this blog. I rarely post more than one article, mostly it's one or two a week.


I often get comments from people that I know and occasionally from those that follow my blog. I always respond to those comments, even if it's just a 'Thanks for the Comment' but normally I'll respond considering the comment. Some of those comments have been really useful. It's always nice to hear from readers that have ideas not confined to my little world. So, please, leave a comment if you have one. The comment form is at the bottom of each post. (if there are no prior comments, just click on the 'No Comments' links.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Cabin Upgrades (Part ii)

Upgrading the Cabin Table.

Hit the first snag this morning, having a hard time finding 1/2" Marine Ply. Lowes - none and no idea when it will be available. Home Depot - none. Now looking at specialty stores. I considered using Coosa board but it's over $200 for a single board of 8'x4' so more online searches. 

Found a Dixie Plywood and Lumber Co near Fort Lauderdale. Reached out to them and awaiting a reply - not hopeful as I have tried that with two other companies and no reply after 3 days. We'll see.

Found a vendor in Fort Lauderdale, will contact them in the morning - Saturday.

Weather looks grotty for the next week, if they have the plywood in the morning, I'll check the weather and head down there. But first I'll stop at Lowes to see if they have any suitable ply in stock, it doesn't have to be Marine Grade Ply as it's going to be covered in resin, just has to be decent laminations and glue. If lowes has it, then I'll see if the Fort Lauderdale has anything in stock better, and consider driving down there to check it out.

Have to call the Ford dealer in the morning, I scratched our truck, very gently, but we can see the scratch. Not sure if it's covered by our 'Ding' warrantee.

It wasn't :(

No luck with the Fort Lauderdale vendor. Heading up to Lowes.

Well, Lowes came through! 1/2-4-8 TC BLONDEWOOD PLYWOOD $37.99 and they cut it so that I have two 26.5" x 41" panels, and some left overs that I'm sure will come in handy somewhere/someday.

Of course, I get 5% off that price using my Lowes Card :)

Here's the two pieces I'll use for the Table with the Template sitting in front of them.

The Template was about 1.5" on the narrow side when we test fitted it on the boat, so this shows the correction.

Time to glue and brad the two pieces together. Then I'll cut out the Mast relief.

Both panels sanded (for gluing) and the top panel marked up from the Template.

The mast relief is about 1/4" oversized to allow for the resin thickness. Not sure how  thick it will be around the edges, but 1/4" should be plenty. Ideally the table will not touch the mast.

Charged up my nail gun and loaded with 1" finish nails.

Clamps all ready.

Lunch then let the gluing begin.

Wood glue applied, pretty sure  it would be enough.

Used a spatula to spread it over the whole surface and ensuring that the surface edges were covered.

I have the AC unit running in the garage as it gets pretty hot and humid without it.

Glue takes 24 hours to cure.

Panels attached to each other. Every clamp I own was holding it together.

Then my DeWalt finish nailer easily set 1" brads at 45º from the vertical just to make sure they did not penetrate  the top surface.

Now to wait the 24 hours for it to cure. 

Next step is to clean up all of the edges and cut out the mast relief.

Removed all of the Clamps and turned the top over, minor goof. Even though I used the nailer at 45º, the nails just showed on the top side :(  I didn't check that the nailer power was not on high. No biggy, I just used the wrong end of a nail punch to knock them back down. Sanded up just fine :)

Started sanding the edges flat where the two pieces were about 1/64" different in size. Took about an hour to sand them down.

Next step is to cut out the Mast Relief. Jig Saw and Sander should get that done.

Well, the Admiral (Peggy) had an idea. She asked if I could make the gap between the table and the mast slightly bigger so that it's easy to wipe the table down, including between it and the mast. Good Idea! Consider that done!

TraLa! New Table top woodwork complete.

After cutting the Mast Relief (oversized as requested) all of the edges were chamfered with my router, did have a minor issue.

I have two routers, one I use for hand routing and the other is fitted to a really nice Bosche Router Table, however the Router Table takes a while to setup and I thought this was a job for the hand router. Would have been except that it had broken and I didn't realize it. The clamp that locks the depth of the router bit had cracked. I did a test cut on a scrap of wood and that was fine. As soon as I started the cut on the bottom edge of the table, the router bit depth loosened and instead of a 3/16 cut, it was more like a 1/2" cut! Grrrrr. Fortunately, or because of past experience, I had started the cut on the underside of the tabletop and on the edge opposite from the mast relief. No harm no foul. So I pulled out my router table and we completed the job using that. 
Once the routing was finished, I sanded the edges, filled the divots and any (very few) voids between the plys. Then, once the filler (spackle) was dry, I sanded the whole thing down, looks pretty good.

Next:- Base paint with an Alkid paint, I'll roll on a pale base paint, sand that and apply a second coat before a light sanding.

Selecting the Resin

I have been researching the resin options, methods and suppliers for several weeks. Final choice was to use TotalBoat Tabletop Resin. They have been around a while and are great suppliers of all types of resins. I watch a lot of Boatworks Today videos on YouTube and he promotes TotalBoat products (and several other vendors, but the Resins he promotes are nearly always TotalBoat) .

After watching a lot of videos I figured out the method to use.
  • Prep the table top (the primer should be fine)
  • Setup a workstation with a drip tray to catch the surplus resin run off
  • Make a Tape Dam around the edges of the tabletop
  • Mix batch #1 of resin and makeup 3 cups of colors and 1 of clear resin
  • Apply 1st layer of colors and clear and style (arty bit) the top
  • Remove the tape dam and wet the edges to allow for overflow to carry the art over the edges
  • Eliminate any bubbles with heat gun (my heat gun should do the trick)
  • Allow to dry before adding 2nd or final coat of resin
  • Allow to cure for about 72 hours more is better.
I enquired about issues doing this in South Florida. TotalBoat responded: The resin work time would be reduced to about 10 minutes !!! 

That's Doable, but time really flies when it's fun. We would be better off waiting until the weather cools. The average low temp in South Florida in December is in the low 70s, and that gives more like 30 minutes till the resin 'kicks' and becomes unworkable.

That gives me about 6 weeks of delay time. But will also allow time to get all of the supplies ordered and on site (the workstation is my Garage)

Peggy did have an 'outside of the box' idea - we could rent a refrigerated truck! Or, we could head up the coast, around the Jupiter area where it gets cooler much sooner. Perhaps stay in a motel. The resin  I have chosen is VOC free, so we would just need to be really careful masking off the work area. Great ideas, but I would feel more comfortable working at home.

So, we're delaying work until it gets cooler. Meanwhile I'll order the supplies.

  • 1 Gallon Totalboat Tabletop Resin $65
  • 2 Quart Totalboat Tabletop Resin $50 (because 1 gallon is not enough)
  • Mica Black Diamond Pigment Set $18
  • Disposable Mixing cups $9
Total cost $150, this had better be good!

Stay tuned for progress reports. If you have done anything like this, please leave a comment with any suggestions.