Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Plan to sleep better with our electrical system

 OR - Fixing our Electrical System

Since we have owned Eximius, we have installed quite a few upgrades and my guess is that we're not the first to upgrade the boat and certainly not the first to make changes to the Electrical System. Every time I open an electrical panel I repeat - I'll have to fix that one day. Well that day is nearly here.

Where we started

We have installed or upgraded the following parts of the Electrical System
And all of that during the past 5 years of ownership. (or should that be 'ownerboat' ?)

During that time the state of the electrical system has improved simply because I have endeavoured to do the right thing and replace any wires where it was necessary and it was in most cases.

Now that we are aware of the kind of issues involved such as:- Incorrect Wire sizes, unnecessary butt joints in the wires, incorrect wire colors, inappropriate wiring terminals and buss bars and missing fuses (by missing I mean there are some systems that should be fused and they are not)

Example of poor wiring (in the bathroomf)
Here's an example.
There are many similar situations on the boat where wires have been joined rather than use a continuous run, the joints are typically twisted, soldered and then wrapped in electrical tape.

Worse are the 110v AC system wires that are joined with Wire nuts used in homes.

There are multiple wires that have nothing connected, just wires dangling.

Tie Wraps are abundant and it's not unusual to have 20 or more tie wraps within a 3 foot loom. That would be ok if they were each functional and neither redundant nor unused.

The Main Electrical Control Panel (Before)

So many things wrong here.
No separation of AC and DC panels.
No protective cover of AC breakers.
Incorrect terminals on lots of wires.
Kinda labeled wires.
Wrong size wires in many cases.

The solution  - at least - my solution.

So far, I have upgraded the wiring that supplies power or data to the device that has been upgraded. But that does not have the kind of impact that I'm looking for in order to sleep well at night.

The big question is, "Where do we start" and I say "we" because this really is a joint effort. Peggy has a pretty enquiring mind and is happy to ask why I'm doing something. Peggy was a Nurse for about 40 years, if you see the amount of technology that Critical Care and Cardiac Care Nurses have to deal with on a daily basis, it's pretty obvious why I explain why I'm doing something or what I intend to do.

If we were to buy another boat, then one thing I would inspect with a much more educated eye would be the Electrical System. Our Boat Surveyor never mentioned it other than noting something that was not working.

Ok, to the task - The Solution.

I posted a question on the C34 Forum and the Association Secretary suggested reviewing the Wiki Links - Wow, there are at least two great examples of what owners have done to solve this issue.

From the Wiki, I learned about a great idea of installing a breadboard at the back of the electrical panel area to mount the Terminal Blocks rather than having them float around behind the panel creating unreachable locations. That will simplify a lot, the board can be made to secure with just a couple of screws then removed, mount the terminal blocks and reinstall it. 

Here's a pic showing the concept.

The General Concept of the Panel Upgrade

The idea is to have enough length of cable looms from the circuit breakers to the terminal blocks that the Breaker panel can be unscrewed from the framework and pulled away to provide access to the wiring terminals as well as make it easy to access the back of the panel.

AC Terminal Blocks (3 - Hots, Neutrals, Grounds)
  • Main AC Power  & Reverse Polarity Switch power
  • Reverse Polarity indicator lamp
  • 110v Outlets Power
  • Inverter/Charger Power
  • Water Heater Power
  • Air Conditioning Power
DC Fuse Block (for normally on services)
  1. Nav table Light
  2. Stereo Memory Power
  3. Weather Clock Power
  4. Dry Bilge Timer
DC +ve Busbar
  1. Power from Battery Selector Switch
  2. Power to DC 1 Circuit Breaker Busbar
  3. Power to DC 2 Circuit Breaker Busbar
  4. Power to DC 3 Circuit Breaker
  5. Power to DC Fuse Block

The existing wires mostly go directly to the Circuit Breakers, some have inline fuses. So there should be plenty of wire to cut off the terminals and then label and connect new terminals with heat shrink tubing to reduce corrosion penetrating into the wires.

Layout of the Terminal Block Bread Board

The -ve, return, busbar is located in the area above the control panel and only requires that the cables are re-terminated, labeled and routed appropriately. I'll still check them to their source device to ensure they are solid, ie. do not include multiple unnecessary but joints and the wires are the correct size and color. If they do not meet those specs they will be replaced.

The spreadsheet below has the terminations for each of the circuits. I'll update it on progress.

Ok, everything has arrived, even the 1/4" 12"x24" White Starboard. I'll measure the space for the breadboard again before cutting. Moving ahead with our Cabin upgrade at the same time, so progress will shift between the two and I'll report as we proceed.

See you on the water.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Cabin Upgrades

 Time to update the Cabin of our Catalina 34

Our cabin layout is definitely different from every other Catalina 34 (Mk 1 Tall Rig Fin Keel) but it is dark! Not very uplifting.

Step 1 is to replace the cabin table. 
Current Cabin Style
Currently, the Cabin table has 2 fold down leafs and the forward inboard corner is an accident waiting to happen whenever anyone tries to climb up to get in the forward seat.

The bulkhead between the V-berth and the cabin is very dark as are the Cushions.

Mockup of bulkhead, table and cushion

Here's a quick mockup showing a grey background on the bulkhead and a simple blue reshaped table.

Also I've added a cushion to the lower part of the bulkhead.

We're thinking of some artwork or chart covered with a clear resin.

This mockup shows a resin tabletop with artistic beach breaking wave. Definitely adds richness to the cabin.

We'll change out the cushion fabric to a lighter color later on, but it's in the dream bucket.

Considering painting the cabinet fronts and definitely updating the window curtains. Oh, I also need a new bottle of Rum.

Here's the new template for the new table.
The template is 41" for-n-aft and 25" athwartships. 

The cut out for the mast is slightly deeper than the original table which will increase the overall width of the table. 
The length is about 4" shorter than the original which will increase the space available to stepup to the seating.

The template is made from 5/16" plywood.
I scribed the mast cutout onto a piece of paper on the boat and transferred that to the plywood. All straight edges were cut with a circular saw and the cut out as well as the rounded corners were cut with a portable jigsaw.

The actual table will be made from two layers of 5/8" marine ply, all corners cut using a router, both the top and bottom edges will be rounded with the router also. Then the top and edges will be artistically covered using resin. The artwork will either be like the mockup above or pieces of chart, boat pics and C34 logo. We'll see. Now it's down to the boat to see how the template fits.

Stay tuned. 


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Labor Day Cruise 2020

 A Great Weekend with the HISC (Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club)

The initial tally for attendees according to the RSVP's was 4 boats and 14 people, some arriving by car. Not so bad considering we're in the middle of the Pandemic. The final tally was 35 people and 6 boats (one was a dinghy). It looked like everyone brought something to share, the table was quickly covered with everything from chips and dips, tortillas and pulled meat, crackers, cheese, cookies and more cookies. The Ice creams were kept in our freezer until the crowd had made a dent on the table top food supply.

Each club member received a 'thanks for coming' gift: a wine bottle LED lamp kit, they just needed an empty wine bottle to complete the project. Of course there was more Beer than Wine, but after seeing Gettin' Nauti's wine rack, it won't be a problem for everyone.

One of the best parts of these club cruises, is the opportunity to visit the other boats and find out what things that have done to personalize their boat. Rob and Nicole's "Gettin' Nauti" has undergone a lot of projects that make it a one of a kind - I got some great ideas from what they have done.

Rob took the time out to work on his tansom, the newly applied name looks very cool. Suits the crew!

The dockside at the Bahia Mar was alive with club members doing their best to stay socially distant or wearing  a mask. Food, Drinks, Jokes, laughter and even some boat work kept us all engaged for the 3 day weekend.

It took some coaxing to get a few members to accept the mini ice creams, but at least we got a laugh out of them.

Sunday evening, we gathered on the dock astern of Gettin' Nauti for an ad hoc social, it just happened. More stories, more jokes, and more enjoyment of being out and with other club members.

Some people did not get the memo about bringing chairs, but we did ok.

(Notice that Gettin' Nauti's stern is naked in this shot.

A few ventured to the pool, some stayed, it was a bit crowded for others, but at least it was open. 

Monday the 5 boats were still there:- Eximius, Affection, Windpunk, Cookie Monster and Gettin' Nauti. Amanda came by dingy Sunday afternoon. Other's included:- Bob & Pat Schuldenfrei, Ross & Astrid Hunton, Paul & Regina Chasse, Pierre & Ava Holstein, and the Mckisick bunch plus a few more guests.

Cruising points for the club members will be applied for each night they attended. When a club member participates in a club cruising event, they earn a 'cruising point' for their boat, when they have 10 points they earn the year's Cruising Flag.

Member's earn an additional Cruising Point for writing an article for the Inlet Outlet Newsletter and for hosting a cruise.

Member's fly their collection of cruising flags with pride. 

Our next cruise is Octoberfest, that may be a surprise venue.  So stay tuned.