Monday, March 16, 2020

St.Patrick's Day Cruise

St. Patrick's Day HISC Cruise 2020


Despite the current pandemic, the St. Patrick's Cruise turned out great!

Here's my review, it covers the details of our short journey to the venue and the return as well as some of the highlights during the stay at Sunrise Bay

We have the process of loading the boat down to an art form. I have a spreadsheet on Google Drive that we use for the daily meal planning. It also has our perishable and non-perishable lists which we use to load coolers / vitals bins.

This trip we didn't have to leave the dock until nearly mid-day, so no need to preload the boat, we just took all that we needed down to the boat on Friday Morning for an 11:30am departure.

The journey down the New River was another day of wonderment! No traffic from the Dock until we got to the Fork, and then it started! There were two sizable motor yachts holding near the Fork for a Cape Ann Towing with a Barge and huge Crane coming from the South Fork. We passed ahead and towards 7th Avenue Bridge, several smaller boats passed us because they could get under the bridge without it opening, others just joined the line.

While waiting for the bridge to open, we heard on VHF that the FEC Railroad bridge was down. That meant that all of the boats, big and small, had to wait upstream from the Railroad bridge! Including the Towed Barge! it quickly packed up, we decided to head back towards 7th Ave Bridge as all of the others were congregating closer to the rail bridge. We cannot hold position very well when there is a current running and a wind coming and going. So we just do a few doughnuts in our corner of the river.

Once the Rail bridge opened, everyone plied their way past it. Of course, Andrew's Avenue Bridge was also slow to open due to road traffic and pedestrians, so now all of that traffic is stuck between Andrew's Ave Bridge and the Rail bridge, it got a bit tricky, but it's almost normal now.

Once past Andrews, 3rd Ave bridge opened and everyone moved forwards. The barge did not have a lot of lateral clearance though that bridge.

Once past 3rd, it was out intent to turn by Smokers Park for a Pump out. We tried to communicate to the vessels close to our stern, on VHF #9, but no response - no big surprise, it seems that most power boat owners don't monitor #9 despite all of the signs along the river to do just that! So I had to resort to shouting to the skipper of the boat that was about to hit us from astern if we slowed and turned. It was only when he was along side of us that he got the message and turned on his radio. Have you ever tried to shout nicely?

We easily docked at Smokers park and completed a pump out in about 25 minutes. Then back out to the river.

The rest of the trip to Sunrise Bay was uneventful, we passed under Sunrise Bridge during the 14:00 opening. Peggy took the helm and turned us into Sunrise Bay. I picked out an anchor spot on the southern side of the bay well eastward of the other boats that were already there. Diversion (Bob & Joyce) were the only HISC boat in the bay.  We anchored, digging in really well, I would not have to worry about dragging this weekend. My new Snubber was quickly deployed and my Anchor Day Signal was hoisted.. Winds were pretty light. 

As it drew near to 5 o-clock somewhere, several other boats arrived. Sully & Loraine aboard Pegasus arrived and rafted up on our Port side, then Peder & Marie aboard Dalecarlia arrived and rafted on our Stbd Side. I dinked Dalecarlia's anchor out and dropped it forward and starboard of Eximius' anchor. Two anchors are better than one, especially when 3 boats are rafted together, and we were expecting one more for the Raft - A big Catamaran. 

During the afternoon, I got a voicemail from Paul on the Catamaran which said they were not coming due to possible exposure to the pandemic earlier that day.

Our club Commodore turned up in his Boston Whaler to chat, he would bring his boat down on Saturday.

We had drinks aboard Eximius and were joined by all those club members that were in the Bay. As always, it was a great time to chat and tell stories.

Dinner was Tuna Salad and Crackers, simple, easy, prepared at home, very little cleanup.

Saturday morning, after a couple of cups of Coffee, we tidied up the boat and started prep for the Party that evening. WindPunk arrived with Commodore Dale and Mirsa, they rafted up along side Dalecarlia Port side too. So now we were 4 boats on two anchors, but they were very well set and despite just a couple of anchor alarms (due to short alarm setting) during the night, we had kept a short arc around our two anchors.

Abu Rayah, Michael Tayah's Catalina 30 arrived and anchored to the north and west of us. Dale dinked over for a chat and to bring Micheal over to the party.

As 4:30pm was the party time, I started heating the Corned Beef and the Smashed Potatoe that we had cooked at home on Thursday. The Beef was heated with it's cooking liquid in a pan on the stove, the potatoes were heated in the oven (a 12.75" x 9" foil pan fits easily) and were ready by 5pm.
Sully had set up a Table on his Pullpit aboard Pegasus, Dale had brought an additional table that I setup on the Bow of Eximius. I setup the serving pans and cutlery holders by using sticky tape to hold them to the table. It worked well. I tied a roll of paper towel to the Anchor Day Signal line above the table. Napkins would just blow away.

At five, I announced that dinner was ready. No body moved! Then I helped myself, and the smell got everyone off of their butts and the food was going quickly. 10lb of uncooked Beef turned into 5.5lb of cooked beef! That's enough for the crew of 6 boats, taking seconds! 5lbs of Smashed Spuds were nearly gone too.

Kokomo and Alebrije arrived and rafted together nearer to the Coral Ridge Yacht Club and dinked over to the Host Boats, I'm not sure if they had any of the Beef and Smash. Next St. Patrick's day cruise we'll cook more beef, the pandemic should be over by then and we would expect more boats to attend.

The 'Game' was 'No Body Knows'. The idea was that members would visit each of the other boats and find out something that nobody knows' about the crew or boat. And then at the Party each of us would ask the rest who knows that (what ever). I started the ball rolling (what's the nautical equivalent?) and asked everyone:- So, one of our club members likes to sunbathe nude on their boat at Maul Lake, nobody knew (except the guilty) but everyone one thought it was them! and they wondered where Maul Lake was located. Bob Tiger gave us the lowdown on Maul Lake - I can see a cruise there in our future (not to see the nude sunbathing!)

We learnt a lot about each of the members, turned out a great game. It would expand greatly with more participants, there's always next year.

Desserts for the Party turned out Brownies, some ingredients included Guinness and Jameson's Whiskey.

Several took a dink ride over to Kokomo, we could hear them playing fiddles, Uke's and having great time. The host boat crews enjoyed a few more drinks and stories and some valuable boat lessons.

I showed Sully how to get route data to display on his Garmin 741xs (same as ours) and he explained how he had a list of his systems including their electrical power draws. That would help in identifying faulty equipment early if the power draw changed. He also explained how he treated his AC system for cleaning by pumping Barnacle Buster into the system and letting it soak for a day or two, rather than circulating the BB through the system for 1/2 hour. I'm updating my spreadsheet of equipment to include the power draw and modifying my AC cleaning process. Thanks Sully!

Sunday morning, lazy rise. Breakfast of Granola and Milk, Coffee, Toast (fried) and Brie (thanks whoever brought that for the Party) and more coffee. We tried the new Creamer from Chobani™ Coffee Creamer because it came in a Screw Top container. Last weekend, we spilt coffee creamer when it laid on it's side, it was a snap top creamer bottle - they leak!

After breakfast we cleaned up the inside of the boat and discussed plans with the others in the raft up. Sully would be the first to leave, they also had the furthest to their dock. WindPunk would be next, they had to get back before mid afternoon. Dalecarlia next, no hurry, we couldn't get back until between Noon:24 or 16:24 due to tide restrictions at our dock. Abu Rayah left after breakfast. Alebrija and Kokomo also left mid morning. Diversion was staying put, we left for the 12:30pm Sunrise bridge opening.

Well, it seems Sunday Noon is not the best time to head down the ICW, at least, not this Sunday!

Boats were piling up in line for the Noon:30 Sunrise Bridge opening, we were near the back with a couple of much bigger boats ahead of us, one coming out from the Marina on the North West side of the Bridge and other coming up astern from us on the ICW - it got crowded pretty quickly and a strong current coming north, that meant that we should all give way to boats coming up the waterway.

Finally the Sunrise Bridge opened and all of the bigger boats, us and those astern of us, let the boats heading North through the bridge. Then we all pushed against the current and headed towards Las Olas Blvd bridge. That was delayed only a minute or so, but the same issue - lots of boats lined up for passage and some coming North. We had to hold back and once passage was clear, we put the pedal down and pushed towards the bridge.

We slowed to let some of the bigger boats, astern of us, pass and then pushed ahead. Our goal was to be back at the dock by 14:00. We decided we had time for a Pump out at Smokers park - Mistake!

As we approached Smokers Park, we got clear of other boats and moved over to the South side of the river as we passed the Tunnel, then tried to come along side, Port Side to. Wasn't going to happen, there was 2 knots of current going around the corner and our back end was easily pushed away from the dock. I took over the helm and fought the current, unsuccessfully. Our Port side crunched the stern, big hunk of steel boat putting a ding just above the rub rail of Eximius, the steel boat wouldn't even know we touched it. Fortunately, an experienced guy was ashore and took our lines to help pull us towards the dock, we rubbed along the very mucky stern lines of the steel boat and have a nice black mark to prove it. Eventually we were secure on the dock close to the pumpout.

The good news is that the damage to Eximius is very minor, about an hour or two to clean up the 4" long area, application of some resin and top coat of gel coat. The rope marks should just buff out, it's just dirt.

Once we had the boat secure, it only took 20 minutes to complete the pumpout, then it was time to get back into the river. That current seemed to have gotten even stronger. I attempted to move the boat astern using the dock lines, it took a huge effort and didn't get far. We added a 3rd line, attached it to the port stern cleat, that made it possible to move the boat in order that we could get out into the river without being moved towards that big piece of steel ahead of us.

The move was successful and we easily got back into the stream, we called 3rd Ave bridge for an opening and just as we passed it, we heard on the VHF that Andrews Ave Bridge was unable to open due to a malfunction - this is not good! 4:24pm is our cut off for getting back into the canal where our dock is located.

With the news that it would be 10 minutes before a tech would be on site to fix the bridge, we hung around the area between the bridges with a 2 knot current flowing upstream - our direction. Not easy, especially when the Riverfront Cruise boat and many smaller boats are all in the same boat if you get what I mean. When the Bridge tender informed us via VHF that it would be longer, I decided we should go along side and tie up. We turned, moved over to Port and easily docked along side. There were pilings and cleats, I put out fenders and had lines ready. Peggy at the helm and we made a perfect docking. Of course, there was nobody around to applaud, unlike the small crowd of pedestrians that were on the opposite side of the river when I was struggling to move the boat aft at Smokers Park! Ain't always that way!

We ended up being tied up for nearly an hour when finally the Andrews Ave Brige tender announced that the bridge was going up. He cleared us for passage, we were ready, within a minute we had loosed the lines and were pulling off the dock to turn around towards Andrews, we could see it was open - Then the FEC Rail bridge informed everyone that that bridge would be down for the passage of two more trains. So now, all of those boats that we held up because the FEC bridge and Andrews, it got really crowded. There were no dock positions we could occupy, so we did about 10 long doughnuts between the two bridges, along with about 20 other boats. The power boats do not get moved around by the current or wind as much as a sail boat with a 5' 7" keel and a big mast up top. We could not stay in one place, so doughnuts were the only solution. Fortunately, Eximius almost turns on a dime, certainly within 40'

While we ran circles around the other boats between the bridges, boats were lining up on the up-stream side of the rail bridge, lots of them. The bridge clearance is only a couple of inches when it's down, so every boat and their dog were waiting.

Of course, the smaller boats don't have a clew! When the bridge opened, they decided they would get through first, meanwhile the bigger boats are dealing with a strong current. The current flow had started to shift, so now the downstream boats should pass through first. Those small boats are ignorant of the protocol and headed towards the bridge from both sides. That caused a problem as the bigger boats were trying to line up to pass the bridge and the smaller boats were going for the middle of a pretty narrow opening. We have a 50'+ mast, so we cannot go too close to the hinge side of the bridge. Passing was a very fraught situation. I was very happy when we passed that bridge - most of the other boats headed into the dock area for the Pirate Republic restaurant on the South West Side of the bridge.

The rest of the trip to the dock was easy - Phew! We got back just after 4pm, enough water under the keel at the entrance to our canal, life was good.

We left the boat facing West so that I could go back to the boat Wednesday to start fixing the ding.
Unloading the boat took about a half hour and we were on our way home.
HISC - Cruising 2020 Flag
We have 3 points towards our 10

The trip to and from the Bay was 'interesting' but well worth it to be part of a great club cruise.

See you on the water.

Paul






Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Broken Alternator Support Strap

The Alternator Support Strap broke.


We had a great weekend on the water to celebrate our sailing club's Change of Command.

Yes, it really was windy!

Part of the COC Ceremony was the changing of the flags, here's me hoisting the Vice Commodore's Flag after the boat next to me took over the position of Rear Commodore (Thanks Ross!)

Despite the weather, it turned into a great weekend, plenty of spontaneous fun, food, drinks, and tall stories.

On Sunday, most of the club boats left the lake heading home, Commotion and Eximius were the last too boats.

We left and headed around the lake towards Camino Real Bridge. As we approached Marker 65, Peggy, at the helm, called out that the engine was overheating.

Suspecting that we had a blockage in the raw water thru hull, step 1, the simplest, was to check that the water strainer was clear. It was. 2nd step was to check the thru hull. I keep a short steel snake on hand, so it was just a couple of minutes before the raw water hose was disconnected from the thru hull and then I was able to quickly clear the waterway. Hose reconnected, restart the engine, water was pumping out of the exhaust pipe, we should see cooling pretty quickly, but didn't!

Peggy said that the Tach was not working either. Hmmmm! Tach output comes from the Alternator, Engine Coolant pump is driven by the same belt as the Alternator - has the belt broken?

Removing the cabin entrance top set of step and raising the engine's top cover, restart the engine, and NO! the belt is not rotating!

Removed the lower steps to get a clear view of the front of the engine - Found it! The Alternator Support arm (Strap) is boken. 

Time to call Tow Boat US - glad I have the unlimited towing option!
Yes, this is the 3rd time we have used the towing service. 

I must admit, Tow Boat US is a great service, they advised it would take 45 - 60 minutes to arrive at the scene, and we could see them as they approached the Camino Real Bridge from the South. Cap't Noah arrived within 45 minuets.

While waiting for the Tow Boat, I realized I could possibly fix the broken strap by drilling a hole (X marks the spot) but my Cordless drill batteries were both flat, I probably could have charged a battery and tried the fix, but it would take at least a couple of hours, and that would delay us to head home on Monday, with a bunch of additional issues for the journey.

Due to our boat draft and the skinny water at the entrance to the canal where our dock is located, we have to enter the canal within 2 hours of High Tide, that meant not entering the canal until 1900 Sunday night.
We advised Cap't Noah at the outset, he kept his speed set to arrive within the time restraint. 

We were transferred to another Tow Boat after passing Sunrise Blvd Bridge, the Skipper was given the same info: 2 hours either side of High tide, and he did a great job, we got to the dock just before 1900 and 7' of water at the canal entrance (Full Moon!)

After quickly unloading the boat and headed towards home. We called Manino's Pizza and ordered a pickup, it was ready when we pulled in to park and were on our way home, just about a mile from our house. 

Home, Pizza, Feed the Cat (he came home the same time as us), a shower, and a glass or two of wine, an hour of TV (Silent Witness) and then a night of deep sleep (ok, until 04:00 when the cat decided he wanted out).

This morning I went to the boat and removed the broken 'strap' marked it where it should be drilled and asked buddies on line for solutions.

The best potential option was to install a HEIM Adjustable Stainless Steel Strap. I was about to order one from Amazon, but measured twice and realized that the 'Straight' HEIM unit would interfere with the Drive Belt. That's a no go.

I checked with Catalina Direct, they had the part but only as part of the Kit to upgrade the Alternator support, which was already upgraded on Eximius, and they advised I might try getting it from Westerbeke.  Catalina Direct is a great resource for Catalina Owners. They have come through for us many times over the past 15 years that we have owned Catalina Yachts.

I found the part number on Westerbeke.com as well as downloading their searchable parts manual. Within Minutes, I had placed an order, with 2nd day air shipping. I ordered 2, this is one of those things that it's obvious, with 20/20 hind sight, good to have as a spare.


Total cost: $82.28 which includes Taxes and 2nd Day Air Shipping for two!

Shipping was $12 for regular, or $32 for 2nd Day air. Peggy ok'd the extra 😁


So, the new Strap should arrive Wednesday, I'll install it on Thursday when we load the boat for St. Patrick's day cruise with HISC.


Here's a pic showing the Alternator hanging off it's top attachment - no damage done to the hose or Oil Filter close to the left (Stbd) side of the Alt. 

The 5 bolt holes in the lower attachment point are 
1. Spare - Threaded
2. -VE Power connection
3. The current Strap Connection bolt - Threaded
4. Spare
5. Spare - Threaded



Here's a Photo-shopped image with the strap shown in it's original position (Bolt #3)

Note how it clears the face of the Alternator and just clears the Drive belt (not shown) 

The X on the strap shows the rough position of the #5 bolt hole.
That's where I'll drill a new hole in the strap.






Here's Photo-shopped image with the strap after drilling a new hole and ready to attach to the #5 bolt hole.

I'll have this modified strap ready in case the 2nd Day Air doesn't arrive on time, just so that we can take the boat out again this coming weekend.







I'll post a new pic of the new Strap and Installed view when it arrives.

See you on the Water.

Sorry about the fuzzy. My phone battery was low and I took this pic with my Tablet, all the pics from yesterday when I replaced the arm were fuzzy.

It took about 10 minutes to fit the new arm and tension the belt to 1/2" on the longest (Alt to Drive Shaft) belt run.

Once the belt was tensioned, I opened the Raw Water filter, and started the engine. Confirmed the belt was not slipping.
Now had Tach and water pumping out of the rear, good so far.
Left the engine running for 10 minutes, stayed below 140ºF and humming along nicely.

Shut down, stowed tools and cleaned up.




Knowing that the traffic on I95 would still be heavy with the evening rush hour, I set to on another project.

The USB dual outlet on the Electric Panel broke sometime ago, it's intermittent due to the socket not allowing a USB plug to be fully inserted in one of the two USB outlets.

 New item purchased from Amazon arrived today, along with the Alternator Support Arm (Strap)

This dual outlet is better than the old one, it has USB 3.0, the outlets are illuminated and it has an on/off switch.

I did not install the cover flap, I fear that is what broke the previous unit, the tabs could have damaged the outlet.

Wiring was identical, just had to disconnect the old connectors and attach them to the new. Took all of 10 minutes. Quick test (to start charging my phone battery) and it worked just fine.

I also purchased a 12v to 5v 5amp converter, plan is to use this for our EarTek headset battery charger, rather than occupy one of the USB outlets. 5Amps is enough to power that charger and the replacement Weather station that is in my Amazon cart, just waiting for the February payment to clear so that we don't have to much on the Amazon card.

That converter is another project on the list.

Again, See you on the Water.

Paul

Update: Luckily I did not toss out the old USB outlet. Inspected it today and found that it was a Cover Tab, that had broken off and prevented a USB plug being inserted. Looks like I'm about to add a 2nd USB outlet to the boat :) Now, where shall I mount it?


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Time for New Batteries - Again

Replacing our Sailboat's Batteries

Duracell 6v Batteries
April 2016
Our boat batteries are now 4 years old, they are showing their age and we're planning on some trips that demand we have confidence in our Battery System. We installed the new batteries in April 2016, just about 4 years ago, and in Florida that's not too bad. Then, I installed Duracell Batteries, but this time they will be Trogan 6v TROJT-105 Batteries and the best price I found is at Batteries Plus.

By ordering them online, they should be 10% off their already good price. But I'll check with the store to make sure that their In-Store price is the same as their online price.

I placed the order and they should arrive Friday this week. So we'll go down to the boat tomorrow (Wednesday) and remove the four old batteries.

The new Batteries have a 20hour 225ah capacity. At night, our Fridge/Freezer draws about 4.5amps, so that would be about 4.5*20 or 90ah if the fridge ran continuously, it does not! Our, very rough, typical night time usage includes:




DeviceAmps drawAHoursSub TotalsTotal
Fridge4.5125454
Anchor Light0.512660
TV441676
VHF Radio tx.51581
VHF Radio rx.21224105
Running Lights11212117



With 4 225ah batteries, 2 in parallel and those in series to provide 12v, we should have 450ah total.

If we consume about 120Ah per night, we should only drain the batteries down by about 25% (roughly) and that's our goal, to not drain below 50%.

Our Solar System pumps in as much as 8*350watts during the day.

So, if we're using 120Ah per day, we should have plenty to spare.

I'll have to work on the formula's for these calculations.

Oh! and if we run the engine, that can pump as much as 100ah per hour, but it's normally toned down to about 60amps per hour in bulk and quickly drops to 10/13ah in accept.


All of these figures are guesses, and when looking at good battery management, the % of discharge and rate of charge are so complex that I really think it's best to leave it to the battery management system and ensure that the data fed to it is as good as it can be. So I'm updating our alternator regulator so that it's part of the BMS rather then the islolated external regulator currently (pun intended) in use.

I'll post more realistic data when I have it. Meanwhile, it's time to pull the old batteries, so that's Wednesday's task. That and wire in the smart regulator.


The Battery Bay is located just forward of the Galley under the Cabin seat, which, on Eximius, is the original seat located beneath the current seat. Confused? I'll add a pic later.

The 4 Batteries are held very securely.
The wooden beam is bolted to a Fore/Aft beam which in turn is bolted to Vertical End beams inside the Battery Bay.














The new batteries fit like a glove. The Terminal positions are just slightly different from the old Duracell's but actually work out better.

The Trojans have a single piece cover for the filling ports. The slight difference in the terminal positions result in the covers being easy to lift off (the old Duracell fill covers required a twist action to unlock them)

The process to install them is:

  1. Place #1 as far forward and near to the midships end of the Battery Bay.
  2. Place #2 as far aft and near to the midships end of the Battery Bay
  3. Place #4 as far aft and outboard of the battery bay
  4. Place #3 as far forward and outboard of the battery bay
  5. Move #2 to touch #4
  6. Move #1 to touch #3
  7. Install the Forward Inboard Vertical location bar (3 screws and nuts)
  8. Install the central hold down beam and support beam.
  9. Connect the Battery Cables.



The resulting installation is complete. Now to test everything.

Solar Panels are still turned off (covers in place)
12.4v shows on the Battery voltage digital display (low, they need charging) They should show 12.6v when fully charged.

Turn Solar panels on (remove covers) and leave for 24 hours.

Voltage now 12.6v when panels are turned off and all systems are off.

Initial Fluid top up - filled each cell till dielectric can be seen touching the lower edge of the filler ports.

24hours later, voltage steady, solar panels output reduced to float stage.



Test engine start, all fine. 48 hours, relaxed each of the terminal nuts and re-tightened just to make sure cable stress is released.

The central hold down beam is not the prettiest, but those batteries are not going to move even if the worst ever happens.

Ready for the club raft up this weekend.

See you on the water.